Reading The Red Book (2)

Georgia O’Keeffe, “Red Poppy”

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.

Reading The Red Book – part 1

Reading The Red Book – part 3

Reading The Red Book – part 4

Reading The Red Book – part 5

Reading The Red Book – part 6

Reading The Red Book – part 7

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14 Responses to Reading The Red Book (2)

  1. litebeing says:

    Hi Monika,
    As someone with a copy of the Red Book, alas without many illustrations in it, who has been wary to actually dig in, I find your posts very helpful. Also, your blog is the third I read today containing soul nourishment, so important for this impending eclipse in Cancer. May we all be rich inwardly and at peaceful union with our soul’s yearnings for actualization.

    • Dear Linda, you are right about the connection to the eclipse. It is an intensive time, isn’t it? We’ve got an extreme heatwave in Europe right now – up to 40 degrees in the sun (104 Fahrenheit)! It is insane and for sure has a symbolic significance. I am glad we can go through The Red Book together. I find Sanford L. Drob’s guide really helpful.

  2. lampmagician says:

    Wow, you are working fast! I must take a time to read your wonderful (two) posts 😁🙃🙏❤

  3. T says:

    Reminds one of Gurdjieff.

  4. inaloveworld says:

    Thank you for sharing a great post!

  5. ‘Images are soul nourishment, says Jung’…how very true this is. I simply love the images you share on your site, Monika, and thank you for helping us to draw soul nourishment from the Red Book.

  6. What Jung says is precisely what Krishna says in the Gita, an avatar and a great psychologist philosopher interestingly say the same thing.

  7. Pingback: Reading The Red Book (2) – lampmagician

  8. lampmagician says:

    thank you, dear Monika, for the No 2 🙂 and please don’t think that I need one week to read your wonderful thoughts, as I’m working the five days of the week eleven hours a day and therefore, my brain actually begins to work in the weekend 😛 With sincerely love ❤

    • No worries – I know what you mean. I hope at some point you can get yourself out of that daily “meatgrinder”

      • lampmagician says:

        Hah! meatgrinder, “Fleischwolf” 😀 something new have learned. Thank you my wonderful Lady. You have a wide and beautiful third eye to see the behind. That’s it, thank you ❤ ❤

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