Carl Jung on Buddha and Reincarnation

To William Hamilton Smith

Dear Mr. Smith, 26 January 1953

Everybody is free to believe anything which seems to fit about things of which we know nothing.

Nobody knows whether there is reincarnation, and equally one does not know that there is none.

Buddha himself was convinced of reincarnation, but he himself on being asked twice by his disciples about it, left it quite open whether there is a continuity of your personality or not.

Certainly we do not know where we come from, nor where we are going, or why we are here at the present time.

I think it is right to believe that having done the best we could do here, we are also best prepared for things to come.

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 103-104.

Samyutta-Nikaya, Part II : “The Nidana Book,” pp. 150f. (Tr. Rhys Davids and Woodward, 1922.)

Carl Jung on Martin Buber and Soren Kierkegaard

To Mitchel Bedford

Dear Dr. Bedford, 31 December 1952

Concerning Mr. Buber, I can tell you that to my knowledge there has never been the slightest personal friction between us and I do not think that Buber has ever been impolite to me.

The only trouble with him is that he does not understand what I am talking about.

Concerning Kierkegaard, I am convinced that for many people it is an excellent thing to read him, because he gives voice to many deliberations which prove to be of great value inasmuch as they help people to think about such questions.

I myself, quite personally, do not find a sufficient amount of meat in him.

One hears too damn much of himself, but very little of that voice which I would prefer to hear.

I have no personal opinion of Buber since I have met him only a few times and I dislike forming opinions on insufficient grounds.

Sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 101-102.

Carl Jung on Zen

To Stanislaw Komorowski

Dear Colleague, 19 December 1952

Many thanks for your friendly letter.

I know Suzuki personally.

I have studied Zen not in the practical sense but only from the psychological angle.

I have had much more to do with the European developments that tend in the same direction.

Many paths lead to the central experience.

But the nearer one gets to the centre the easier it is to understand the other paths that lead there.

I have no doubt that this study is the most important in our time.

With best wishes for the natalis Solis invicti,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Page 101.

Image: D.T. Suzuki seeking advice from a Zen MEWster.

Carl Jung on "The Philosophical Tree."

To James Kirsch

My dear Kirsch, 29 January 1953

I would like to thank you personally for the great honour you have destined for me and the great pleasure this has given me.

I hope and wish all the best for the future of your Society.

If I had a Doctor honoris causa to bestow I would place the well-earned academic hat on your head in recognition of your truly remarkable and meritorious activity on behalf of “my” psychology, with regard to which, however, I presume to no proprietary rights.

It represents a movement of the spirit which took possession of me and which I have had the privilege of serving all my life.

It illuminates the evening of my days and fills me with joyful serenity that I was granted the favour of putting my best abilities at the service of a great cause.

What you write about the effect of Job on analysts accords with my own experience: the number of individuals capable of reacting is relatively very small and analysts are no exception.

A second edition is already on the way, in which I have made the corrections you suggested.

I will send you a copy.

I am recuperating slowly, but now things are getting positively better.

Today I finished a long essay on the “Philosophical Tree,” which kept me company during my illness.

I have discovered some interesting things.

Writing it was an enjoyable substitute for the fact that so few of my contemporaries can understand what is meant by the psychology of the unconscious.

You should have seen the press reviews of Job! The naive stupidity of it all is beyond imagination.

Again with cordial thanks and kindest regards,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung, Letters Vol. II, Page 104.

How Dr. Jung met Albert Einstein

To Carl Seelig

Dear Dr. Seelig, 25 February 1953

I got to know Albert Einstein through one of his pupils, a Dr. Hopf if I remember correctly.

Professor Einstein was my guest on several occasions at dinner, when, as you have heard, Adolf Keller was present on one of them and on others Professor Eugen Bleuler, a psychiatrist and my former chief.

These were very early days when Einstein was developing his first theory of relativity.

He tried to instill into us the elements of it, more or less successfully.

As non-mathematicians we psychiatrists had difficulty in following his argument.

Even so, I understood enough to form a powerful impression of him.

It was above all the simplicity and directness of his genius as a thinker that impressed me mightily and exerted a lasting influence on my own intellectual work.

It was Einstein who first started me off thinking about a possible relativity of time as well as space, and their psychic conditionality.

More than thirty years later this stimulus led to my relation with the physicist Professor W. Pauli and to my thesis of psychic

With Einstein’s departure from Zurich my relation with him ceased, and I hardly think he has any recollection of me.

One can scarcely imagine a greater contrast than that between the mathematical and the psychological mentality.

The one is extremely quantitative and the other just as extremely qualitative.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages108-109.

Carl Jung: Thank you for letting me see Professor Einstein’s highly complementary letter.

To Upton Sinclair

Dear Mr. Sinclair, 24 November 1952

Thank you ever so much for the kind reception you gave to my letter and to my apparent criticism.

I do not feel quite happy about my way of using the English language, since I seem to cause many misunderstandings.

I want, therefore, to make it quite clear that I fully appreciate not only your masterful portrait of a personal Jesus, but also the laudable tendency of your work to show an apathetic world the possibility of a personal approach to a highly debatable religious figure.

My letter has obviously given you cause to analyse the mental condition of its perpetrator.

Since it is a rule of thumb never to analyse any given subject without the pertinent association material (if there is any!), I want to support your analytic attempt by giving you some more necessary information: I have a certain picture of a personal Jesus.

It has been dimly suggested to me through certain New Testament data.

Yet the strongest impression carne to me from the Linceul de Turin, the Saint Suaire.

Its stern and august countenance has confirmed my formerly vague expectations.

I am, as a matter of fact, so profoundly impressed by the superiority of this extraordinary personality that I would not dare to reconstruct its psychology.

I am not at all sure that my mental capacity would be up to such a task.

That is why I must personally refrain from a biographical attempt.

You are quite right in contending that the world is entitled to demand something more positive from me than mere criticism.

As a matter of fact (since 1948) I have published everything sustainable which I have thought about the documentary phenomenon of Christ and its psychological reconstruction.

There are three essays:

1 . Symbolik des Geistes, 1948, p. 32 3-446 : “Versuch einer psychologischen Deutung des Trinitatsdogmas.”
2 . Aion, 1951, p. 15-379 : “Beitrage zur Symbolik der Selbst.”
3· Antwort auf Hiob, 1952.

People mostly don’t understand my empirical standpoint: I am dealing with psychic phenomena and I am not at all concerned with the naive and, as a rule, unanswerable question whether a thing is historically, i.e., concretely, true or not.

It is enough that it has been said and believed.

Probably most history is made from opinions, the motives of which are factually quite questionable; that is, the psyche is a factor in history as powerful as it is unknown.

In dealing with Christ, my point de depart is the Corpus Christianum in the first place.

It consists of the canonical writings exclusively.

From this source we learn not only of a personal and rational Jesus, but also and even foremost of an eschatological Christ.

I use (as others) the term “eschatology” in the wider sense (i.e., not only with reference to the parousia) viz. oneness with God, sonship, messianic mission, identity with the Anthropos (“Son of Man”), the glorified resurrected Christ, the Kvpwnov ayy􀂣Awv Kat rwv oatjMlvtwv and the iudex vivorum et mortuorum, not forgetting the pre-existent ,\6yo􀂤. [Greek letters not cut and pasted properly]

This irrational aspect is inseparable from the evangelical picture of Christ.

In the second place, in dealing with Christ’s historical effects, I have to take into account not only the dogmata of the Church but the Gnostics, and the later heretics also, right down to late mediaeval alchemy.

No wonder people don’t understand what it’s all about.

The trouble is they are still stuck with the silly question as to whether a metaphysical assertion is true or not, or whether a mythologem refers to a historical fact or not.

They don’t see, and they don’t want to see, what the psyche can do.

But there-alas-is the key.

Thank you for letting me see Professor Einstein’s highly complementary letter.

I am duly impressed and feel quite low.

Yours very truly,

C.G. Jung

P.S. I would have gladly sent you a copy of my books but they are not translated. ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 95-98

Carl Jung on the development of the Kabbalah.

To James Kirsch

Dear Kirsch, 18 November 1952

I am sending you an English letter this time as I am still unable to write longhand letters myself.

I had another attack of arrhythmia and tachycardia due to overwork.

I am now slowly recovering and my pulse is normal again for almost a week, but I am still tired and have to go slowly.

Your question is a very important one and I think I can understand its full import.

I would not be able to give you a satisfactory answer, yet having studied the question as far as is possible, I can call your attention to the extraordinary development in the Kabbalah.

I am rather certain that the sefiroth tree contains the whole symbolism of Jewish development parallel to the Christian idea.

The characteristic difference is that God’s incarnation is understood to be a historical fact in the Christian belief, while in the Jewish Gnosis it is an entirely pleromatic process symbolized by the concentration of the supreme triad of Kether, Hokhmah, and Binah in the figure of Tifereth.

Being the equivalent of the Son and the Holy Ghost, he is the sponsus bringing about the great solution through his union with Malkhuth.

This union is equivalent to the assumptio beatae virginis, but definitely more comprehensive than the latter as it seems to include even the extraneous world of the Kelipoth.

X. is certainly all wet when he thinks that the Jewish Gnosis contains nothing of the Christian mystery. It contains practically the whole of it, but in its unrevealed pleromatic state.

There is a very interesting little Latin mediaeval book written either by Knorr von Rosenroth or at least under his direct influence.

It is called Adumbratio Kabbalae Christianae, Id est Syncatabasis Hebraizans, Sive Brevis Applicatio Doctrinae Hebraeorum
Cabbalisticae Ad Dogmata Novi Foederis. Francofurti, 1684.

This little book is highly worthwhile; it contains a very useful parallel to the Christian and the Kabbalistic mystery and might give you much help as it has helped me in understanding this all-important problem of the Jewish religious development.

It would be highly commendable to translate the book.

I am pretty certain that the extraordinary and venomous response of the orthodox rabbis against the Kabbalah is based upon the undeniable fact of this most remarkable Judeo-Christian parallelism.

This is hot stuff, and since the 17th century, as far as my knowledge goes, nobody has dared to touch it, but we are interested in the soul of man and therefore we are not blindfolded by foolish confessional prejudices.

Sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 91-93.