A dear friend recently introduced me to Carl Jung's The Red Book, journals in words and images he kept over 16 years, that she describes as a "dialogue with the soul." Though created between 1914 and 1930, it's only recently been published.
Just the name and concept enraptured me. Then, Friday, I actually got to see, touch and look through a copy of the $200 (well spent) reproduction. It was like living all of my best, most interesting and provocative dreams, thoughts and insights. Too intense to process in one couple-hour sitting. Striking that the images that surfaced for him, have also captured my attention, separately. Like the serpent, the broken egg, tree of life and rooting branches of the cross. It's an odyssey inside.
I also find it extremely fascinating that Jung and I have the same Myers-Briggs type, INFJ, which may be another reason I feel connected. Also affirmed. I read somewhere about him and his journey that turning inside was an introvert's dream. I have wondered, even here, about spending too much time inside. Guess it's just who I am right now.
That compulsion to travel to the interior is so at odds with our culture. We're supposed to be busy accumulating, doing, going, experiencing, taking, yadda, yadda, yadda.
So just why is the 80-plus-year-old journal from someone of another era (Jung died in 1961) flying off bookshelves, in its fifth printing and back ordered? What's the fascination?
It is the timeless search for Self, I believe. Self could also be interpreted as wholeness, God, Spirit, Truth, ... whatever is bigger than the self.
The madness of running and accumulating does not deeply satisfy nor does it seem like a healthful place: mentally, spiritually physically or emotionally. It may be why there are so many addictions in our society, avenues to dull or cope with the constant motion and the aloneness and isolation that ensue.
If I understand correctly, this series of journals began as a response to horrific visions and dreams Jung had of bloody rivers, death and destruction. It made him question his sanity and launched him on a journey away from the academic success and notoriety he was enjoying. Less than a year after the dream, WWI broke out and Jung realized the dream had been a portent, answering his sanity doubt.
Perhaps the chaos in our culture cries out for something like The Red Book. A real, true conversation with ourselves and what lies in and beneath the surface. Looking beyond the man-made reality to the true Reality.
The Red Book is just such a glimpse.
• What does a dialogue with the soul mean to me?
• What has my interior journey encompassed?
• How could I benefit from the deep exploration of another?
• For what does our spirit cry out for comfort from our culture?
• What deeply comforts me?
as a modern
on the light,
I am more
by the light