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Carl Gustav Jung Quotes


Carl Gustav Jung, portrait by Frank Szasz
Carl Gustav Jung
b. 7-26-1875; Switzerland
d. 6-6-1961; Küsnacht
Artist: Frank V. Szasz

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Carl Gustav Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, described his life as “a story of the self realization of the unconscious.” He pioneered such concepts as the archetype, the collective unconscious, complexes like the shadow, anima and animus, psychological types of introversion and extroversion, thinking and feeling; active imagination, and synchronicity.

Carl Gustav Jung posters and prints gallery features The Creative Process Global PathMarker portrait poster with the quote from Alchemical Studies, Vol 13, paragraph 335 (pg 265), “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” Other images in the C G Jung poster gallery relate to Jung's life and work- a mandala, the Swiss Alps, the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico, Africa, Sigmund Freud, a quote from Joseph Campbell, William Blake's illustration of the Book of Job, and the album cover from the Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

“Modern man does not understand how much his ‘rationalism’ (which has destroyed his capacity to respond to numinous symbols and ideas) has put him at the mercy of the psychic ‘underworld’. He has freed himself from ‘superstition’ (or so he believes), but in the process he has lost his spiritual values to a positively dangerous degree. His moral and spiritual tradition has disintegrated, and he is now paying the price for this break-up in worldwide disorientation and dissociation.”
C. G. Jung, “Approaching the Unconscious,” in Man and His Symbols, ed. by Carl G. Jung (New York: Dell Publishing, 1968), p. 84

“The world powers that rule over all mankind, for good or ill, are unconscious psychic factors, and it is they that bring consciousness into being and hence create the sine qua non for the existence of any world at all. We are steeped in a world that was created by our own psyche.” The Real and the Surreal, 1933, CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, p747

“The psyche creates reality every day. The only expression I can use for this activity is fantasy. Fantasy is just as much feeling as thinking, as much intuition as sensation. There is no psychic function that, through fantasy, is not inextricably bound up with the other psychic functions. Sometimes it appears in primordial form, sometimes it is the ultimate and boldest product of all our faculties combined. Fantasy, therefore, seems to me the clearest expression of the specific activity of the psyche. It is, pre-eminently, the creative activity from which the answers to all answerable questions come; it is the mother of all possibilities, where, like all psychological opposites, the inner and outer worlds are joined together in living union.” Psychological Types, 1921, CW 6: p.78

“Just as conscious contents can vanish into the unconscious, other contents can also arise from it. Besides a majority of mere recollections, really new thoughts and creative ideas can appear which have never been conscious before. They grow up from the dark depths like a lotus.” Approaching the Unconscious, Man and His Symbols, 1964, CW 18: p37

“As long as we ourselves are caught up in the process of creation, we neither see nor understand; indeed we ought not to understand, for nothing is more injurious to immediate experience than cognition. But for the purpose of cognitive understanding we must detach ourselves from the creative process and look at it from the outside; only then does it become an image that expresses what we are bound to call ‘meaning’.” On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry, 1922, CW 15: The Spirit in Man, Art and Literature, p121

“Instead of being at the mercy of wild beasts, earthquakes, landslides and inundations, modern man is battered by the elemental forces of his own psyche.” Jung, 1934

“Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains.” ~ closing lines in Preface to Memories Dreams, and Reflections

“Among all my patients in the second half of life ... there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life.”

“The ego participates in God's suffering. We have become participants in the divine nature. We are the vessel...of the Deity suffering in the body of the “servant” (a reference to Jesus) Buddha's insight and the incarnation in Christ break the chain through the intervention of the enlightened human consciousness, which thereby acquires a cosmic significance. Individuation and individual existence are indispensable for the transformation of God. Human consciousness is the only seeing eye of the Deity.” ~ lectures on Nietzsche's Zarasthustra, paras 336,409; Letters II, 314ff

“The problem of crucifixion is the beginning of individuation: there is the secret meaning of the Christian symbolism, a path of blood and suffering, like any other step forward on the road of the evolution of human consciousness. Can man stand a further increase in consciousness? Is it really worthwhile that man should progress morally and intellectually? Is that gain worth the candle? That is the question. I don't want to force my views on anyone else. But I confess that I submitted to the divine power of this apparently insurmountable problem and I consciously and intentionally made my life miserable because I wanted God to be alive and free from the suffering man had put on him by living his own reason more than God's secret intentions. There is a mystical fool in me that proved to be stronger than all my science... Thus I suffered and was miserable, but it seems that life was never wanting and in the blackest night even, and just there, by the grace of God, I could see a great Light. Somewhere there seems to be a great kindness in the abysmal darkness of the deity.” ~ unpublished letter

“Although the divine incarnation is a cosmic and absolute event, it only manifests empirically in those relatively few individuals capable of enough consciousness to make ethical decisions, i.e., to decide for the Good. Therefore God can be called good only inasmuch as He is able to manifest His goodness in individuals. His moral quality depends upon individuals. That is why He incarnates. Individuation and individual existence are indispensable for the transformation of God the Creator. We ought to remember that the Fathers of the Church have insisted upon the fact that God has given Himself to man's death on the Cross so that we may become gods. The Deity has taken its above in man with the obvious intention of realizing Its Good in man. The significance of man is enhanced by the incarnation. We have become participants of the divine life and we have to assume new responsibility, viz. the continuation of the divine self-realization, which expresses itself in the task of our individuation. Individuation does not only mean that man has become truly human as distinct from animal, but that he is to become partially divine as well. This means practically that he becomes adult, responsible for his existence, knowing that he does not only depend on God but that God also depends on man. Man's relation to God probably has to undergo a certain important change: Instead of the propitiating praise to an unpredictable king or the child's prayer to a loving father, the responsible living and fulfilling of the divine will in us will be our form of worship of and commerce with God. His goodness means grace and light and His dark side the terrible temptation of power. Man has already received so much knowledge that he can destroy his own planet. Let us hope that God's good spirit will guide him in his decisions, because it will depend upon man's decision whether God's creation will continue. Nothing shows more drastically than this possibility how much of divine power has come within the reach of man.” ~ letter to Elined Kotschnig, Letters II, p.312

“I don't need to believe in God, I KNOW.”

“..man lives wholly when, and only when, he is related to God.”

“Nights through dreams tell the myths forgotten by the day.”

“Every creative person is a duality or a synthesis of contradictory aptitudes. On the one side he is a human being with a personal life, while on the other side he is an impersonal, creative process...The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him. As a human being he may have moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is ‘man' in a higher sense – he is ‘collective man’ – one who carries and shapes the unconscious, psychic life of mankind. To perform this difficult office it is sometimes necessary for him to sacrifice happiness and everything that makes life worth living for the ordinary human being.

"...There are hardly any exceptions to the rule that a person must pay dearly for the divine gift of the creative fire. It is as though each of us were endowed at birth with a certain capital of energy. The strongest force in our make-up will seize and all but monopolize this energy, leaving so little over that nothing of value can come of it. In this way the creative force can drain the human impulses to such a degree that the personal ego must develop all sorts of bad qualities...in order to maintain the spark of life and to keep itself from being wholly bereft...[these negatives] of artists resembles that of illegitimate or neglected children who from their tenderest years must protect themselves from the destructive influence of people who have no love to give them--who develop bad qualities for that very purpose and later maintain an invincible egocentrism by remaining all their lives infantile and helpless or by actively offending against the moral code or the law. How can we doubt that it is his art that explains the artist, and not the insufficiencies and conflicts of his personal life? These are nothing but the regrettable results of the fact that he is an artist – that is to say, a man [or woman] who from his very birth has been called to a greater task than the ordinary mortal. A special ability means a heavy expenditure of energy in a particular direction, with a consequent drain from some other side of life.

"It makes no difference whether the poet knows that his work is begotten, grows and matures with him, or whether he supposes that by taking thought he produces it out of the void. His opinion of the matter does not change the fact that his own work outgrows him as a child its mother. The creative process has feminine quality, and the creative work arises from unconscious depths--we might say, from the realm of the mothers. Whenever the creative force predominates, human life is ruled and molded by the unconscious as against the active will, and the conscious ego is swept along on a subterranean current, being nothing more than a helpless observer of events. The work in process becomes the poet's fate and determines his psychic development. It is not Goethe who creates Faust, but Faust which creates Goethe....The archetypal image of the wise man, the saviour or redeemer, lies buried and dormant in man's unconscious since the dawn of culture; it is awakened whenever the times are out of joint and a human society is committed to a serious error. When people go astray they feel the need of a guide or teacher or even of the physician. These primordial images are numerous, but do not appear in the dreams of individuals or in works of art until they are called into being by the waywardness of the general outlook. When conscious life is characterized by one-sidedness and by a false attitude, then they are activated--one might say, 'instinctively' – and come to light in the dreams of individuals and the visions of artists and seers, thus restoring the psychic equilibrium of the epoch.

“In this way the work of the poet comes to meet the spiritual need of the society in which he lives, and for this reason his work means more to him than his personal fate, whether he is aware of this or not. Being essentially the instrument for his work, he is subordinate to it, and we have no reason for expecting him to interpret it for us. He has done the best that in him lies in giving it form, and he must leave the interpretation to others and to the future. A great work of art is like a dream; for all its apparent obviousness it does not explain itself and is never unequivocal.

“....This is why every great work of art is objective and impersonal, but none the less profoundly moves us each and all. And this is also why the personal life of the poet cannot be held essential to his art--but at most a help or a hindrance to his creative task. He may go the way of a Philistine, a good citizen, a neurotic, a fool or a criminal. His personal career may be inevitable and interesting, but it does not explain the poet." Modern Man in Search of a Soul, 1933, Harvest Book, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., New York, 1961 paperback, pp. 168-171.


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