Commenting on Jung’s Red Book: The Desert Cap. iv


Sixth night. My soul leads me into the desert, into the desert of my own self I did not think that my soul is a desert, a barren, hot desert, dusty and without drink. The journey leads through hot sand, slowly wading without a visible goal to hope for? How eerie is this wasteland. It seems to me that the way leads so far away from mankind. I take my way step by step, and do not know how long my journey will last. Solitude is true only when the self is a desert. Should I also make a garden out of the desert? Should I people a desolate land? Should I open the airy magic garden of the wilderness? What leads me into the desert, and what am I to do there? Is it a deception that I can no longer trust my thoughts? Only life is true, and only life leads me into the desert, truly not my thinking, that would like to return to thoughts, to men and events, since it feels uncanny in the desert. My soul, what am I to do here? But my soul spoke to me and said, "Wait." I heard the cruel word. Torment belongs to the desert.

[pj-note: Something Crowley wrote in Magick in Theory & Practice comes immediately to mind:

"There is, however, one form of miracle which certainly happens, the influence of the genius. There is no known analogy in Nature. One cannot even think of a "super-dog" transforming the world of dogs, whereas in the history of mankind this happens with regularity and frequency. Now here are three "super-men," all at loggerheads. What is there in common between Christ, Buddha, and Mohammed? Is there any one point upon which all three are in accord? No point of doctrine, no point of ethics, no theory of a "hereafter" do they share, and yet in the history of their lives we find one identity amid many diversities. Buddha was born a Prince, and died a beggar. Mohammed was born a beggar, and died a Prince. Christ remained obscure until many years after his death. Elaborate lives of each have been written by devotees, and there is one thing common to all three – an omission. We hear nothing of Christ between the ages of twelve and thirty. Mohammed disappeared into a cave. Buddha left his palace, and went for a long while into the desert. Each of them, perfectly silent up to the time of the disappearance, came back and immediately began to preach a new law. This is so curious that it leaves us to inquire whether the histories of other great teachers contradict or confirm. Moses led a quiet life until his slaying of the Egyptian. He then flees into the land of Midian, and we hear nothing of what he did there, yet immediately on his return he turns the whole place upside down. Later on, too, he absents himself on Mount Sinai for a few days, and comes back with the Tables of the Law in his hand. St. Paul (again), after his adventure on the road to Damascus, goes into the desert of Arabia for many years, and on his return overturns the Roman Empire. Even in the legends of savages we find the same thing universal; somebody who is nobody in particular goes away for a longer or shorter period, and comes back as the "great medicine man"; but nobody ever knows exactly what happened to him. Making every possible deduction for fable and myth, we get this one coincidence. A nobody goes away, and comes back a somebody. This is not to be explained in any of the ordinary ways. There is not the smallest ground for the contention that these were from the start exceptional men. Mohammed would hardly have driven a camel until he was thirty-five years old if he had possessed any talent or ambition. St. Paul had much original talent; but he is the least of the five. Nor do they seem to have possessed any of the usual materials of power, such as rank, fortune, or influence. Moses was rather a big man in Egypt when he left; he came back as a mere stranger. Christ had not been to China and married the Emperor's daughter. Mohammed had not been acquiring wealth and drilling soldiers. Buddha had not been consolidating any religious organizations. St. Paul had not been intriguing with an ambitious general. Each came back poor; each came back alone. What was the nature of their power? What happened to them in their absence? History will not help us to solve the problem, for history is silent. We have only the accounts given by the men themselves. It would be very remarkable should we find that these accounts agree. Of the great teachers we have mentioned Christ is silent; the other four tell us something; some more, some less. Buddha goes into details too elaborate to enter upon in this place; but the gist of it is that in one way or another he got hold of the secret force of the World and mastered it. Of St. Paul's experiences, we have nothing but a casual allusion to his having been "caught up into Heaven, and seen and heard things of which it was not lawful to speak." Mohammed speaks crudely of his having been "visited by the Angel Gabriel," who communicated things from "God." Moses says that he "beheld God." Diverse as these statements are at first sight, all agree in announcing an experience of the class which fifty years ago would have been called supernatural, to-day may be called spiritual, and fifty years hence will have a proper name based on an understanding of the phenomenon which occurred."

Jung notes that as he undertook what would become the Black Books, he separated himself out from both society and his family and hid himself in his office; completely alone. Though he had status in the world, he felt this work in the end, might cost him that status.]

Through giving my soul all I could give, I came to the place of the soul and found that this place was a hot desert, desolate and unfruitful. No culture of the mind is enough to make a garden out of your soul. I had cultivated my spirit, the spirit of this time in me, but not that spirit of the depths that turns to the things of the soul, the world of the soul. The soul has its own peculiar world. Only the self enters in there, or the man who has completely become his self, he who is neither in events, nor in men, nor in his thoughts. Through the turning of my desire from things and men, I turned my' self away from things and men, but that is precisely how I became the secure prey of my thoughts, yes, I wholly became my thoughts.

(2] I also had to detach myself from my thoughts through turning my desire away from them. And at once, I noticed that my self became a desert, where only the sun of unquiet desire burned. I was overwhelmed by the endless infertility of this desert. Even if something could have thrived there, the creative power of desire was still absent. Wherever the creative power of desire is, there springs the soil's own seed. But do not forget to wait. Did you not see that when your creative force turned to the world, how the dead things moved under it and through it, how they grew and prospered, and how your thoughts flowed in rich rivers? If your creative force now turns to the place of the soul, you will see how your soul becomes green and how its field bears wonderful fruit.

[pj-note: Desire is a creative force in contrast with any object of desire, as such will neutralize that force. The man of genius unleashes such force upon the world and accomplishes great things, and when such force is directed towards one’s inner life, the Soul is congealed and the immortal self emerges.]

Everything to come was already in images: to find their soul, the ancients went into the desert. This is an image. The ancients lived their symbols, since the world had not yet become real for them. Thus they went into the solitude of the desert to teach us that the place of the soul is a lonely desert. There they found the abundance of visions, the fruits of the desert, the wondrous flowers of the soul. Think diligently about the images that the ancients have left behind. They show the way of what is to come. look back at the collapse of empires, of growth and death, of the desert and monasteries, they are the images of what is to come. Everything has been foretold. But who knows how to interpret it? When you say that the place of the soul is not, then it is not. But if you say that it is, then it is. Notice what the ancients said in images: the word is a creative act. The ancients said: in the beginning was the Word. Consider this and think upon it. The words that oscillate between nonsense and supreme meaning are the oldest and truest.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.—John 1

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