Saturday, February 2, 2019
Sir Laurens Jan van der Post was many things - Afrikaner author, farmer, war hero, political adviser to British heads of government, close friend of Prince Charles, godfather of Prince William, educator, journalist, humanitarian, philosopher, explorer and conservationist. And he was something else, something that led him to write a fascinating book titled Jung and the Story of Our Time. For the last 16 years of Carl Jung's life, the two men shared a nuanced friendship of respect and depth. Fourteen years after Jung's death, Sir Laurens' book was published. For those interested in not only making the attempt to understand Jung's life work and impact on society but are ever curious about Jung the man and his most personal perspectives near the end of life, Sir Laurens' book gives a glimpse behind the veil.
For me, certain things jumped off the page, resonating a higher appreciation for what Jung was after and the expanded view he left us of ourselves and our place in all there is. The idea of the feminine soul, the anima, being the way to reconcile the shadow. The idea that God has a Shadow and we are in partnership with God in realizing the transcendental, infinite meaning of that necessity for there to be anything at all. The idea that reconciling opposites means realizing something greater than just the blend of polarized parts. The idea that infinite creation implies meaning itself is ever being created and never static and done and we play a dynamic part in creating ever more expressive manifestations of that Divine meaning. The idea that God gave us the greatest resource to help us face God's Shadow, and that resource was love, and this love is mediated in us through the feminine soul. The idea that we are the answer to the problem for which life was created, the problem implicit in creation. Through our energy and actions, through our will and creative work to reconcile the light and dark in us, we continue the most wondrous aspect of all - creating new transcendental meaning for ourselves and all there is. The idea that all philosophers have been after the same eternal truths of Being -- purity of heart, honesty of mind, love of God, and a patience of immeasurable love which endures and bares all things to the true end. For Jung at the end of his life, all of the psychological concepts fell away and in awe he faced one great mystery, a mystery he never grasped the full measure of - that was the mystery of love, the feminine mystery.
Here are some excerpts from the book - the highlights are my own:
"For the feminine soul in man is the go-between and guide to reconciliation of man and his shadow ...the conscious will of the masculine in creation was increasingly being joined to serve the love of the feminine and a creation, no longer static but procreatively on the move."
...No one could be real and not throw a shadow. I had learned this as a boy from my own black friends in Africa who, if they wanted to pay a sincere compliment said, "But you do throw a shadow." One would look at his own shadow, quixotically lean and long at sunset, and say of it, "You see that man there? When I die he goes up into the sky to join the sun, but I go down into the earth where he now lies."
...Coming to terms with the shadow, the problem of reconciling the opposites in a whole greater than their parts, was an ultimate of his seeking. As far as the shadow of the All-Highest was concerned, it had bothered Jung all his conscious life. In this paradoxical pattern the image of God was both terrible and lovable. There the fear of God always was the beginning of all wisdom, and the love of God the only protection of the spirit that ventured in his presence. Fear and love were mysteriously joined to enable both man and God to achieve greater meaning. He saw man and God, as it were, in partnership, the traffic between them no longer one-sided but two-way. Man was no longer at an almost intolerable receiving end but also at a giving end; he too now could contribute to the conscious reality of God as God contributed to his power to do so.
...Jung found man and his unconscious self, man in all four aspects of himself, the man and his feminine self, the woman and her masculine self, joined with God in a task of transcendental meaning. Man was the chosen instrument for enabling life to answer the problem for which it had been invented. Life was a process of living an answer to a problem implicit in its creation. The suffering of man was meaningful because it reflected the suffering of its Creator. In this role, man might look as exposed as Job was to what appeared at times an almost capricious exercise of divine power. But even in his most miserable state, man was not alone, because Jung had clearly demonstrated that where man and God were encountered face to face, a vital, indescribable element of the greatest transforming energies at the disposal of this master pattern was delegated to intercede for man. This was the long-rejected and despised feminine and its highest value of love.
...As a result one finds that at the end of his days, when he is ready to close his own account of what he had laboured to do in life, he leaves the last word not with these great new concepts of his but with a mystery which he confesses he is incapable of articulating, the mystery of love. And that love in the last analysis is a feminine mystery.
...They were seeking to create a new sort of man, a greater awareness of reality and increase of meaning. It was obvious to Jung now that their work was full of living symbolism of the most transformative kind. There was not one of any distinction among them from Hermes Trismegistus to Paracelsus who did not lay down as the first and most important laws of his science those of purity of heart, honesty of mind, love of God, and the patience of that love which endured and bore all things to the true end."