This book is the only place in the extensive writings in which Jung speaks to God and his personal experience of God. While he was writing of his youthful rebellion against the church, he once said, " At that time I realized that God - for me, at least - was one of the most immediate experiences." In his scientific works Jung seldom speaks of God; there he is at pain to use the term "God -image in the human psyche." This is no contradiction . In the one case his language is subjective, based upon inner experience; in the other it is objective language of scientific enquiry. In the first case he is speaking as an individual, whose thoughts are influenced by passionate, powerful feelings, intuitions, and experiences of a long and unusually rich life; in the second he is speaking as a scientist who consciously restricts himself to what may be demonstrated and supported by evidence.
As a scientist, Jung is an empiricist. When Young speaks of his religious experiences in this book, he is assuming that his readers are willing to enter into his point of view. His subjective statements will be acceptable only by those who have had similar experiences - or, to put it another way, to those in whose psyche the God-image bears the same or similar features. Although Jung was active and affirmative in the making of the "autobiography," for a long time his attitude towards the prospect of its publication remained - quite understandably - highly critical and negative. He rather dreaded the reaction of the public, for one thing because of the candor with which he had revealed his religious experiences and ideas, and for another because the hostility aroused by his book, ANSWER TO JOB, was still too close, and the incomprehension or misunderstandings of the world in general too painful.
" I have guarded this material all my life, and have never wanted it exposed to the world, for if it is assailed, I shall be affected even more than in the case of my other books. I do not know whether I shall be so far removed from this world that the arrows of criticism will no longer reach me and that I shall be able to bear the adverse reactions. I have suffered enough from incomprehension and from the isolation one falls into when one says things that people do not understand. If the JOB Book met with so much misunderstanding, my 'memoirs' will have an even more unfortunate fate. The 'autobiography' is my life, viewed in the light of the knowledge I have gained from my scientific endeavor. Both are one, and therefore this book makes great demands on people who do not know or cannot understand my scientific ideas.
My life has been in a sense the quintessence of what I have written, not the other way around. The way I am and the way I write are in unity. All my ideas and all my endeavors are myself. Thus the 'autobiography' is merely the dot on the i." During the years in which the book was taking shape a process of transformation and objectivization was also taking place in Jung. With each succeeding chapter he moved, as it were, farther away from himself, until at last he was able to see himself as well as the significance of his life and work from a distance. " If I ask the value of my life, I can only measure myself against the centuries and then I must say, Yes, it means something.
Measured by the ideas of today, it means nothing. "The impersonality, the feeling of historical continuity expressed in these words, emerges ever more strongly in the course of the book, as the reader will see. The chapter entitled " THE WORK," with its brief survey of the genesis of Jung's most important writings, is fragmentary. How could this be otherwise, when his collected works comprise nearly twenty volumes? Moreover, Jung never felt any disposition to offer a summary of his ideas - either in conversation or in writing. When he was asked to do so, he replied in his characteristic, rather drastic fashion, " That sort of thing lies totally outside my range.
I see no sense in publishing a condensation of papers in which I went to so much trouble to discuss the subject in detail. I should have to omit all my evidence and rely on a time of categorical statement which would not make my results any easier to understand. The characteristic ruminant activity of ungulate animals, which consist in the regurgitation of what has already been chewed over, is anything but stimulating to my appetite..." The reader should therefore regard this chapter as a retrospective sketch written in response to a special occasion, and expect it to be comprehensive. The short glossary which I have included at the end of the book, at the publisher's request, will, I hope, be of help to the reader who is not familiar with Jung's work and terminology.
I have taken a small number of definitions from the Worter-buch der Psychologie und ihrer Grenzgebiete, with the kind permission of its editor, Kurt von Sury, M.D. Wherever possible I have elucidated the concepts of Jungian psychology by quotations from Jung's works, and have supplemented the dictionary's definitions in the same way. These quotations must, however, be regarded as no more than suggestive hints. Jung was constantly defining his concepts in new and different ways, for an ultimate definition, he felt, was not possible. He thought it wise to let the in explicable elements that always cling to psychic realities remain as riddles or mysteries.
A great many persons have helped me with this inspiring and difficult task, have shown unfailing interest during the slow growth of this book, and have furthered its progress by stimulating suggestions and criticism. To all of them I offer heartfelt thanks. Here I shall mention by name only Hele and Kurt Wolff, of Locarno who conceived the idea of the book and helped to bring that idea to fruition; Marianne and Walther Niehus-Jung of Kusnacht-Zurich, who throughout the years in which it was taking shape aided me by word and deed; and R. F. C. Hull, of Palma de Mallorca, who gave me advice and help with unflagging patience.
Aniela jaffe : December 1961 : Reference: C. G. Jung, Dreams, Memories, Reflections
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