Jung… A Change of Pace

I’m planning to take a course from Wisdom University in just over a month so my book list has had to change as there are required readings. First up is Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections (Canada) and what a change of pace that is.

Moving from Walsch’s eminently readable (some would say too readable) Tomorrow’s God (Canada), to Jung’s somewhat-archaic super-brain has been a bit of a challenge.

But I settled in last night with a glass of Shiraz and my trusty pencil and dove in to the Introduction and first two chapters which deal with Jung’s childhood and early school years.

Jung was one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century and to have his internal experience laid out for us, in his own words, is a profound gift.

Apparently he remained conflicted about this project from its proposal until his passing away in 1961 – he was deeply mistrusting of the subjective nature of autobiography, and the reception that this very personal work would receive. It was published posthumously by his co-writer Aniela Jaffé, as per his wishes.

There are, as far as I could gather, two promises to be fulfilled by this book. The first is that his inner life will be illuminated and the second is that this will include the only explanation of his personal religious experience.

I confess I found myself wondering after 15-or-so pages why on earth we were being asked to read this book for a course on Embodied Wisdom so I looked at the pre-course writing assignment. Ah, we are supposed to read this book with an eye to how Jung interacted with and learned through his body. Okey dokey.

So far, I have found these notable tidbits about Jung’s Embodied Wisdom. The first is that, looking back over his life as an elderly man, the external events of his life – where he went, who we met, what they talked about – had little lasting impact on him while the internal events – his dreams, his impressions and thoughts – are what he considered important and shape the narrative of this auto/biography.

The other is that Jung remembered having a rather troubled relationship with his body as a boy – he remembers several incidents in which he hurt himself and one where he almost slipped off a bridge as “pointing to an unconscious suicidal urge or, it may be, to a fatal resistance to life in this world” (9).

He was not happy at the Gymnasium in Basel where he was sent at age 11; Math, Drawing, and Gym were subjects that gave him much trouble. Actually, this was my first chuckle of the book – this super-mind was completely flummoxed by Algebra and though he fancied himself quite a prodigious artist, he could not deal with the confines of classical art studies.

Jung developed a neurosis (he realized later) that caused him to faint whenever he set to his homework or returning to classes. This lasted for several months and he only overcame these spells after hearing his father tell another man, “what will become of the boy if he cannot earn his own living” (31). Hearing this, Jung immediately set about his studies with a new determination and quickly returned to school.

Like I said before, quite the change from Walsch’s book but fascinating nonetheless.