There is an important link between my recent talk about Jung's Red Book and his "confrontation with the unconscious," and the last story that I posted, The Old Thief and the Magic Plum Seed--- the value in bringing forth what is buried within us, of finding the gold in the darkness and dark places in our lives. We generally look for solutions to our problems in what we consider to be our strengths and the light aspects of our character. But what we really need is the light found in the darkness. We need the wisdom of the soul as well as the gifts of spirit.
Let's look at the old thief. He was adept at secrets and stealing but eventually got caught. Alone in his gloomy prison cell he discovered the golden kernel, or what Michael Meade calls the "element of destiny" within that fateful situation. "Who is not a thief?" he asks, and this question is both a gift of conscience to the king's court and his ticket to freedom.
There are many kinds of theft and many things worth stealing--- time, for example, solitude, or love, or ideas, or even bread. Some of us must steal our lives from situations that threaten to break us. The point is, we are each in our own way the old thief, with insight to gain and share if we plum(b) the depths of our being and actions. Our imperfection is what unites and heals us.
C. G. Jung also found the gold in his darkness. He was almost broken by the intensely troubling fantasies and dreams that engulfed his consciousness. Was it courage, curiosity, or some other compulsion that led him to address his fantasy figures and meticulously record what they had to teach him? Jung recovered his soul. Like the Old Thief, he freed himself and gave the rest of us a tremendous gift in the process. The result of the Red Book experiment was a collection of depth psychological ideas and practices that have profoundly shaped Western culture and will be a crucial part of a more enlightened future.
We examine our inner selves and work to change external circumstances, addressing both aspects of one task.
"Enlightenment is not imagining figures of light but making the darkness conscious.” --- C. G. Jung
(image is from the Red Book)