Wednesday, October 03, 2018


During the spring of 2018, the C. G. Jung Society of St. Louis offered a study group, seminar format, during which two dozen people read and discussed Jung's MEMORIES, DREAMS, REFLECTIONS in two small groups.
For the last meeting of both groups, I summarized my own thoughts and shared them:

It was a pleasure reading through MDR at a leisurely pace with the benefit of others’ reflections and impressions.  Many memories of my own early life came flooding back as I read the first chapters.  Many of those memories I’ve revisited before in my journals, in conversations with my siblings and friends, in discussion groups like this one, and in many analytic sessions.  This time with our text, from an even more distant perspective, yielded new insights and depth of understanding of my own journey.  I came away with a firmer understanding of the role of my mother in my life and the impact of the death of my father when I was three years old, two areas of intense focus now for decades.

Jung’s discussion of his No. 1 and No. 2 personalities was particularly helpful.  I know I, too, suffered a similar split early on.  I, too, left behind my No. 1 to take up the tasks of adaptation—over-adaptation in my case—as a young adult.  Only with the complete failure of my No. 2 to deal with tragedy was I thrown back on myself in a way I came to see as essential.  But, oh, was it ever painful!

At age 30 I had a numinous experience in which my No. 1 personality broke through though I didn’t recognize what was happening.  I only registered something foreign but vaguely familiar from very early experiences.  I went to the Louvre and, turning a corner, I saw the Venus de Milo down a long corridor before me.  Suddenly I knew something new, and understood why all the emphasis on and study of art.  I didn’t know the word numinous then, but it was a numinous experience.

In my early 40’s, in the middle of a life crisis, I happened to go with a friend to a week-long program about dreams led by a Jungian Analyst.  The week got me extremely interested in dreams, but mostly I saw something in the analyst, undefinable to be sure, that I wanted for myself.  That week I began a pursuit that is still on-going.  I am somewhat clearer about what it was I glimpsed in that person and can now say that it is a way of being in process—a way of being and becoming that is life giving.  It is a process where the goal paradoxically is death.

There are many, many ideas and specific sentences in the book that grabbed me, particularly the paragraph on p. 325 where Jung talks about embodying the essential “or life is wasted.”  A harsh judgement!

Jung’s discussion about stumbling onto alchemy and its contributions to his psychological theories was enriching.  I liked, once again, reading about his discovery of a myth that gave meaning to his existence.  The search for meaning may be every bit as critical to one's existence as the discovery of that meaning.  Meaning has provided me dignity and purpose and has made all the difference in my life.

My main takeaway from these weeks of reading and discussion is the vital importance Jung assigned to his inner life.  His emphasis on the interior process put me, more than ever, in touch with my own.  Reading about his experiences, his insights, his reflections made me more keenly appreciative of my own.

Somewhere Jung argues that one must fall in love with one’s own life.  I did that one more time during these past weeks.

Thank you, All, for this rich experience.

May 6, 2018

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