I Ching – the method C. G. Jung from "Synchronicity"

The I Ching, which we can well call the experimental foundation of classical Chinese philosophy, is one of the oldest known methods for grasping a situation as a whole and thus placing the details against a cosmic background.

Unlike the Greek-trained Western mind, the Chinese mind does not aim at grasping details for their own sake, but at a view which sees the detail as part of a whole. For obvious reasons, a cognitive operation of this kind is impossible to the unaided intellect. Judgment must therefore rely much more on the irrational functions of consciousness, that is on sensation (the “sens du réel”) and intuition (perception by means of subliminal contents). The I Ching, which we can well call the experimental foundation of classical Chinese philosophy, is one of the oldest known methods for grasping a situation as a whole and thus placing the details against a cosmic background—the interplay of Yin and Yang.

This grasping of the whole is obviously the aim of science as well, but it is a goal that necessarily lies very far off because science, whenever possible, proceeds experimentally and in all cases statistically. Experiment, however, consists in asking a definite question which excludes as far as possible anything disturbing and irrelevant. It makes conditions, imposes them on Nature, and in this way forces her to give an answer to a question devised by man. She is prevented from answering out of the fullness of her possibilities since these possibilities are restricted as far as practicable. For this purpose there is created in the laboratory a situation which is artificially restricted to the question and which compels Nature to give an unequivocal answer. The workings of Nature in her unrestricted wholeness are completely excluded. If we want to know what these workings are, we need a method of inquiry which imposes the fewest possible conditions, or if possible no conditions at all, and then leaves Nature to answer out of her fullness.
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The Stone C. G. Jung

Time is a child — play­ing like a child — play­ing a board game — the king­dom of the child. This is Tele­spho­ros, who roams through the dark re­gions of this cos­mos and glows like a star out of the depths. He points the way to the gates of the sun and to the land of dreams.


In 1950 I made a kind of mon­u­ment out of stone to ex­press what the Tower means to me. The story of how this stone came to me is a cu­ri­ous one. I needed stones for build­ing the en­clos­ing wall for the so-called gar­den, and or­dered them from the quarry near Bollin­gen. I was stand­ing by when the ma­son gave all the mea­sure­ments to the owner of the quarry, who wrote them down in his note­book. When the stones ar­rived by ship and were un­loaded, it turned out that the cor­ner­stone had al­to­gether the wrong mea­sure­ments; in­stead of a tri­an­gu­lar stone, a square block had been sent: a per­fect cube of much larger di­men­sions than had been or­dered, about twenty inches thick. The ma­son was fu­ri­ous and told the barge men to take it right back with them.
 But when I saw the stone, I said, “No, that is my stone. I must have it!” For I had seen at once that it suited me per­fectly and that I wanted to do some­thing with it. Only I did not yet know what.
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At Bollingen C. G. Jung

I pump the wa­ter from the well. I chop the wood and cook the food. These sim­ple acts make man sim­ple; and how dif­fi­cult it is to be sim­ple!

At times I feel as if I am spread out over the land­scape and in­side things, and am my­self liv­ing in ev­ery tree, in the plash­ing of the waves, in the clouds and the an­i­mals that come and go, in the pro­ces­sion of the sea­sons. There is noth­ing in the Tower that has not grown into its own form over the decades, noth­ing with which I am not linked. Here ev­ery­thing has its his­tory, and mine; here is space for the space­less king­dom of the world’s and the psy­che’s hin­ter­land.
 I have done with­out elec­tric­ity, and tend the fire­place and stove my­self. Evenings, I light the old lamps. There is no run­ning wa­ter, and I pump the wa­ter from the well. I chop the wood and cook the food. These sim­ple acts make man sim­ple; and how dif­fi­cult it is to be sim­ple!


In­ner peace and con­tent­ment de­pend in large mea­sure upon whether or not the his­tor­i­cal fam­ily which is in­her­ent in the in­di­vid­ual can be har­mo­nized with the ephemeral con­di­tions of the present.

Our souls as well as our bod­ies are com­posed of in­di­vid­ual el­e­ments which were all al­ready present in the ranks of our an­ces­tors. The “new­ness” in the in­di­vid­ual psy­che is an end­lessly var­ied re­com­bi­na­tion of age-old com­po­nents. Body and soul there­fore have an in­tensely his­tor­i­cal char­ac­ter and find no proper place in what is new, in things that have just come into be­ing. That is to say, our an­ces­tral com­po­nents are only partly at home in such things. We are very far from hav­ing fin­ished com­pletely with the Mid­dle Ages, clas­si­cal an­tiq­uity, and prim­i­tiv­ity, as our mod­ern psy­ches pre­tend. Nev­er­the­less, we have plunged down a cataract of progress which sweeps us on into the fu­ture with ever wilder vi­o­lence the far­ther it takes us from our roots. Once the past has been breached, it is usu­ally an­ni­hi­lated, and there is no stop­ping the for­ward mo­tion. But it is pre­cisely the loss of con­nec­tion with the past, our up­root­ed­ness, which has given rise to the “dis­con­tents” of civ­i­liza­tion and to such a flurry and haste that we live more in the fu­ture and its chimeri­cal prom­ises of a golden age than in the present, with which our whole evo­lu­tion­ary back­ground has not yet caught up. We rush im­petu­ously into nov­elty, driven by a mount­ing sense of in­suf­fi­ciency, dis­sat­is­fac­tion, and rest­less­ness. We no longer live on what we have, but on prom­ises, no longer in the light of the present day, but in the dark­ness of the fu­ture, which, we ex­pect, will at last bring the proper sun­rise. We refuse to rec­og­nize that ev­ery­thing bet­ter is pur­chased at the price of some­thing worse; that, for ex­am­ple, the hope of greater free­dom is can­celed out by in­creased en­slave­ment to the state, not to speak of the ter­ri­ble per­ils to which the most bril­liant dis­cov­er­ies of sci­ence ex­pose us. The less we un­der­stand of what our fa­thers and fore­fa­thers sought, the less we un­der­stand our­selves, and thus we help with all our might to rob the in­di­vid­ual of his roots and his guid­ing in­stincts, so that he be­comes a par­ti­cle in the mass, ruled only by what Ni­et­zsche called the spirit of grav­ity.

Om­nis fes­ti­na­tio ex parte di­a­boli est — all haste is of the devil

Re­forms by ad­vances, that is, by new meth­ods or gad­gets, are of course im­pres­sive at first, but in the long run they are du­bi­ous and in any case dearly paid for. They by no means in­crease the con­tent­ment or hap­pi­ness of peo­ple on the whole. Mostly, they are de­cep­tive sweet­en­ings of ex­is­tence, like speed­ier com­mu­ni­ca­tions which un­pleas­antly ac­cel­er­ate the tempo of life and leave us with less time than ever be­fore. Om­nis fes­ti­na­tio ex parte di­a­boli est — all haste is of the devil, as the old mas­ters used to say.
 Re­forms by ret­ro­gres­sions, on the other hand, are as a rule less ex­pen­sive and in ad­di­tion more last­ing, for they re­turn to the sim­pler, tried and tested ways of the past and make the spars­est use of news­pa­pers, ra­dio, tele­vi­sion, and all sup­pos­edly time­sav­ing in­no­va­tions…
C. G. Jung from “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”

Tower C. G. Jung

GRAD­U­ALLY, through my sci­en­tific work, I was able to put my fan­tasies and the con­tents of the un­con­scious on a solid foot­ing. Words and pa­per, how­ever, did not seem real enough to me; some­thing more was needed. I had to achieve a kind of rep­re­sen­ta­tion in stone of my in­ner­most thoughts and of the knowl­edge I had ac­quired. Or, to put it an­other way, I had to make a con­fes­sion of faith in stone. That was the be­gin­ning of the “Tower,” the house which I built for my­self at Bollin­gen.
 It was set­tled from the start that I would build near the wa­ter. I had al­ways been cu­ri­ously drawn by the scenic charm of the up­per lake of Zürich, and so in 1922 I bought some land in Bollin­gen. It is sit­u­ated in the area of St. Mein­rad and is old church land, hav­ing for­merly be­longed to the monastery of St. Gall.

At first I did not plan a proper house, but merely a kind of prim­i­tive one-story dwelling. It was to be a round struc­ture with a hearth in the cen­ter and bunks along the walls. I more or less had in mind an African hut where the fire, ringed by a few stones, burns in the mid­dle, and the whole life of the fam­ily re­volves around this cen­ter. Prim­i­tive huts con­cretize an idea of whole­ness, a fa­mil­ial whole­ness in which all sorts of small do­mes­tic an­i­mals like­wise par­tic­i­pate. But I al­tered the plan even dur­ing the first stages of build­ing, for I felt it was too prim­i­tive. I re­al­ized it would have to be a reg­u­lar two-story house, not a mere hut crouched on the ground. So in 1923 the first round house was built, and when it was fin­ished I saw that it had be­come a suit­able dwelling tower.
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Synchronicity – An Acausal Connecting Principle Carl Gustav Jung

All the events in a man’s life would accordingly stand in two fundamentally different kinds of connection: firstly, in the objective, causal connection of the natural process; secondly, in a subjective connection which exists only in relation to the individual who experiences it, and which is thus as subjective as his own dreams.

The writer Wilhelm von Scholz 1)↓ has collected a number of stories showing the strange ways in which lost or stolen objects come back to their owners. Among other things, he tells the story of a mother who took a photograph of her small son in the Black Forest. She left the film to be developed in Strassburg. But, owing to the outbreak of war, she was unable to fetch it and gave it up for lost. In 1916 she bought a film in Frankfurt in order to take a photograph of her daughter, who had been born in the meantime. When the film was developed it was found to be doubly exposed: the picture underneath was the photograph she had taken of her son in 1914! The old film had not been developed and had somehow got into circulation again among the new films. The author comes to the understandable conclusion that everything points to the “mutual attraction of related objects,” or an “elective affinity.” He suspects that these happenings are arranged as if they were the dream of a “greater and more comprehensive consciousness, which is unknowable.


Decisive evidence for the existence of acausal combinations of events has been furnished, with adequate scientific safeguards, only very recently, mainly through the experiments of J. B. Rhine and his fellow-workers, 2)↓ who have not, however, recognized the far-reaching conclusions that must be drawn from their findings. Up to the present no critical argument that cannot be refuted has been brought against these experiments. The experiment consists, in principle, in an experimenter turning up, one after another, a series of numbered cards bearing simple geometrical patterns. At the same time the subject, separated by a screen from the experimenter, is given the task of guessing the signs as they are turned up. A pack of twenty-five cards is used, each five of which carry the same sign. Five cards are marked with a star, five with a square, five with a circle, five with wavy lines, and five with a cross. The experimenter naturally does not know the order in which the pack is arranged, nor has the subject any opportunity of seeing the cards. Many of the experiments were negative, since the result did not exceed the probability of five chance hits. In the case of certain subjects, however, some results were distinctly above probability. The first series of experiments consisted in each subject trying to guess the cards 800 times. The average result showed 6.5 hits for 25 cards, which is 1.5 more than the chance probability of 5 hits. The probability of there being a chance deviation of 1.5 from the number 5 works out at 1 : 250,000. This proportion shows that the probability of a chance deviation is not exactly high, since it is to be expected only once in 250,000 cases. The results vary according to the specific gift of the individual subject. One young man, who in numerous experiments scored an average of 10 hits for every 25 cards (double the probable number), once guessed all 25 cards correctly, which gives a probability of 1 : 298,023,223,876,953,125. The possibility of the pack being shuffled in some arbitrary way is guarded against by an apparatus which shuffles the cards automatically, independently of the experimenter.  Continue reading

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1. Der Zufall: Eine Vorform des Schicksals.
2. J. B. Rhine, Extra-Sensory Perception and New Frontiers of the Mind. J. G. Pratt, J. B. Rhine, C. E. Stuart, B. M. Smith, and J. A. Greenwood, Extra-Sensory Perception after Sixty Years. A general survey of the findings in Rhine, The Reach of the Mind, and also in the valuable book by G. N. M. Tyrrell, The Personality of Man. A short résumé in Rhine, “An Introduction to the Work of Extra-Sensory Perception.” S. G. Soal and F. Bateman, Modern Experiments in Telepathy.

The Tao C. G. Jung

‘Master Lü-tsu said: That which exists through itself is called the Way (Tao)’ – The Secret of the Golden Flower begins. The Hui Ming Ching begins with the words: ‘The subtlest secret of the Tao is human nature and life.’

It is characteristic of the Western mind that it has no concept for Tao. The Chinese character is made up of the character for ‘head’, and that for ‘going’. Wilhelm translates Tao by Sinn (Meaning). 1)↓ Others translate it as ‘way’, ‘providence’, or even as ‘God’, as the Jesuits do. This shows the difficulty. ‘Head’ can be taken as consciousness, 2)↓ and ‘to go’ as travelling a way, thus the idea would be: to go consciously, or the conscious way. This agrees with the fact that ‘the light of heaven’ which’dwells between the eyes’ as the ‘heart of heaven’ is used synonymously with Tao. Human nature and life are contained in ‘the light of heaven’ and, according to Liu Hua-yang, are the most important secrets of the Tao. Now ‘light’ is the symbolical equivalent of consciousness, and the nature of consciousness is expressed by analogies with light. The Hui Ming Ching is introduced with the verse:

If thou wouldst complete the diamond body with no outflowing,
Diligently heat the roots of consciousness 3)↓ and life.
Kindle light in the blessed country ever close at hand,
And there hidden, let thy true self always dwell.

These verses contain a sort of alchemistic instruction, a method or way of creating the ‘diamond body’ which is also meant in our text. ‘Heating’ is necessary; that is, there must be an intensification of consciousness in order that the dwelling place of the spirit may be ‘illumined’. But not only consciousness, life itself must be intensified. The union of these two produces ‘conscious life’. According to the Hui Ming Ching, the ancient sages knew how to bridge the gap between consciousness and life because they cultivated both. In this way the sheli, the immortal body, is ‘melted out’, and in this way ‘the great Tao is completed’.
 If we take the Tao to be the method or conscious way by which to unite what is separated, we have probably come close to the psychological content of the concept. In any case, the separation of consciousness from life cannot very well be understood to mean anything but what I have described above as an aberration, or deracination, of consciousness. Without doubt, also, the realization of the opposite hidden in the unconscious, i.e. the ‘reversal’, signifies reunion with the unconscious laws of being, and the purpose of this reunion is the attainment of conscious life or, expressed in Chinese terms, the bringing about of the Tao.
C. G. Jung, Commentary to “The Secret of the Golden Flower”

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1. Also as the Way
2. The head is also the ‘seat of heavenly light’.
3. In the Hui Ming Ching, ‘human nature’ [hsing] and ‘consciousness’ [hui] are used interchangeably. (Both are opposites to life [ming] but are not identical with each other.