Chapter 1 of The Red Book bears the title Refinding the Soul. “I have shaken the dust of all the lands from my feet, and I have come to you, I am with you,” says Jung, addressing his soul. He says he has achieved every earthy dream he can think of and yet, at the age of 40, he feels unbearable inner longing. Now he wishes to ascend to solitude and reconnect with the soul he thought he had known because it had been the object of his scientific pursuits. He realizes that “my soul cannot be the object of my judgement and knowledge” because it is “a living and self-existing being” which cannot be judged and whose circumference cannot be grasped.
He also ponders how to reach the place of the soul. The most striking words seem to be these: “The one thing I have learned is that one must live this life.” That resonated with me strongly, and I saw a parallel with what Ram Dass said in one of his talks. He said that in order to become nobody, which is the goal of spiritual pursuits, one must first become somebody. I understand it as establishing yourself in the ways of this world – through the usual activities called upon us by “the spirit of our times” (see part 1 to read more about this). Jung strongly emphasizes that there is no other way to spirituality but this, i.e. the engagement with the world. The divine can be reached only through this life, and all other ways are “false paths.”
But after becoming somebody the next step is to “turn away from outer things.” There is emptiness in “a blind desire for the hollow things of the world.” The soul lies within while the outer world can be distracting. Here Jung draws a distinction between the world and the images. He says that the images constitute the wealth of the soul. A person poor in the material sense but who possesses the image of the world through their rich, imaginative and soulful inner life, in fact “possesses half of the world.” Conversely, “he who possesses the world but not its image possesses only half the world, since his soul is poor and has nothing.” Images are soul nourishment, says Jung. They are not less real than worldly objects.
The image of the white dove opens this chapter as the symbol of the soul. The background is green with lush red flowers at the bottom to juxtapose the sensual with the spiritual aspect.