Tuesday, November 13, 2012

#124. The Only Way to Avoid War

ARCHIVE. For a list of all my published posts: 

Blog entries beginning with #101 are not essays but minimally-edited notes and reviews from the files I've collected over the last few decades. I no longer have the time and energy needed to sort out and put together into decent essay-form the many varied ideas in these files, but I would like to share them with all who are interested.

If you have questions and think I might help, you're welcome to send me a note: sam@macspeno.com

Post #124 is some rough notes about an essay/talk by Jung's long-time assistance and collaborator, Marie-Louise von Franz; it profoundly grabbed my attention back around the same time (1996) as the Klaus Theweleit material I shared in the previous post. The topics of the two posts-- the berserk and the berserk transformed-- obviously go together.


These are notes on an especially significant essay by Marie-Louise von Franz I found in a collection of talks and essays from the 1980s entitled Human Survival and Consciousness Evolution. [Edited by Stanislav Grof with the assistance of Marjorie Livingston Valier. (State University of New York Press, 1988).]

The essays are disturbing; there is much focus on nuclear war. But the essay by Marie-Louise von Franz stands out.

It was originally a talk, “The Transformed Berserk: Unification of Psychic Opposites,” which she gave at a 1983 conference on "Individual Transformation and Universal Responsibility."

The focus of her essay is C. G. Jung's understanding of a vision experienced by the little known 15th century Swiss figure, Nicholas von Flue. Referred to as "Brother Klaus," he was a patriot and is patron saint of Switzerland. I found it an amazingly profound essay and highly relevant to our contemporary situation.


Summary. Jung says there will always be leaders of society who like the media lime-light (and who may or may not be responsible persons) and those who are leaders of individuals (of souls, of inner work).

In 15th c Europe, there was much political dissension and the church was falling apart, all of which constellated a great need for inner guidance.

Nicholas von Flue had led an active life involved in military and political activities and was married with 10 kids; at the age of 50 he was called to become a religious hermit, and at the age of 64 he politically saved Switzerland from internal destruction and external extinction.

In his vision, a pilgrim appeared to him. He “comes from the place where things dawn on us.” The pilgrim changes first into a nobleman dressed in grey/blue, "where Truth and people’s selfish dislike of it are manifest."

Then the pilgrim becomes a bear with shining fur who, on departure, bows deeply and humbly, manifesting great love, which Nicholas von Flue experiences as the fulfillment of all satisfaction (“honey”).

Thus does the Self appear, says Marie-Louise von Franz.

It comes from where new-ness arises from the unconscious. Here, she says, the pilgrim is Wotan, understood to mean Truth, absolute knowledge, objective love, the interconnectedness of all reality, "honey."

The bear is the dangerous, animal aspect of the Self. Her whole point is that the inner union of this Christ (Wotan) Self and the shadow Bear allowed Nicholas von Flue to influence external reality as well, thus making peace at a time of crisis and saving Switzerland.

“To work on oneself is also to have invisible and imperceptible influence on others.” “If the sage, abiding in his room, speaks well, he meets with assent a thousand miles away.”

These ideas are accompanied by a diagram which tries to show how conscious events and the personal unconscious are connected to larger psychic units such as the family group, tribe, nation and ultimately the whole human race.

The integrated Man (Self) in Nicholas von Flue’s vision is a version of the Whole Christ image which according to Jung is a 2,000 year old unofficial development in Christianity.

The official image, as we know, incarnates only the light side of God. But a more whole image is needed, which is why the anti-Christ image arose, says Jung. He thinks that the image of the monstrous lamb in Revelations 5 and 6 indicates a rebirth of a more complete Christ image; he also notes that the alchemists were especially interested in it.
This anti-Christ image, representing the animal, dark side and opposite of the light, indicates aggression. When it is autonomous, i.e., unintegrated, it produces world events like WW II.

Our job, then (the job of contemporary humanity) says Jung, is to integrate it (the dark side) “in our depression, in our hermitage.” Von Franz notes that if “we” means personal consciousness, then it can't be done. “We” can’t do it. But the Self can.

The best “we” can do, she says, is to integrate our personal shadow. But we can be a place where the divine opposites come together, “by enduring to absolute extreme and accepting it within ourselves.”

In alchemy, the dark/dangerous animal brings forth rose-hued blood, which she interprets as the "honey" of cosmic love and the interrelatedness of All.

When integrated, the dark/dangerous animal no longer acts brutally or without insight and enlightenment (not “behind their backs” or "unconsciously").

Western culture, says von Franz, needs to differentiate the Feeling function. Even our Intuition function, she says, isn’t as undifferentiated as Feeling is in Western society.

We have to take back our projections (that what is true for me is also necessarily true for you), especially between groups (“them” and "us"), and most especially between male and female. Only then are relationships possible.

Relationships require an optimal distance: closeness, but not so much as to intrude. Also required: a profound respect for the “otherness” of the others.

Beyond all this, there is yet something else: a personal link with selected others via the Self: relating to the Self in others. This is a primal, spiritual, immediate presence. Jung calls it an “eternal secret” and laments, “How shall I ever speak of it?” (When have we ever seen Jung nearly speechless!)

Relationships are the only compensation for the fragmentation of modern society. One unique being relating to another... with warmth, humor, a twinkle in the eye.
The I Ching says that a person can either be an external hero or a holy sage in the hermitage. Thus, says Marie-Louise, people felt Brother Klaus’ “honey” aspect and did not think him mad.

In the Great [i.e., "together"] Person, aggression is integrated and transformed into a clearly defined separateness and firmness which does not succumb to general paranoiac emotion. And this, says Jung, is “the only way to avoid war.”


Some personal reflections. An antiphon at Vespers for the First Sunday of Advent has had immense numinosity for me for four decades. Only with my reading of this essay have I understood why. "In that day, the mountains shall drop down sweetness and the hills shall flow with milk and honey. Alleluia."

That our personal development has cosmic implications is certainly not a new idea, but this essay helps make more sense of it. As Jung says, “in my depression, in my hermitage,” the dangerous, animal aspect must be integrated with the light. “By enduring to absolute extreme and accepting it [the darkness] within myself,” I can become a sacred place, a kiva, where the light and dark can come together.

The result is interrelatedness.

So a major problem of our day is differentiation of the Feeling function: taking back our projections, especially between ethnic groups and most especially between male and female, and having a profound respect for the otherness of others: “right relationship” with “all my relations.”

By enduring opposites within myself, I become a place from which lac et mel come forth, specifically the sweetness and honey of profound mutual respect for the otherness of the opposite sex.

The break with nature is healed and sacred manhood recovered via my enduring alone in my sadness, tears and grief, and accepting within myself, the absolute extreme of the other. Not the dark, dangerous animal but the dark, dangerous feminine/earth/unconscious.

As the antiphon says, "In that day, the mountains shall drop down sweetness and the hills shall flow with milk and honey. Alleluia!"


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