Memories, Dreams, Reflections [Carl Jung]

10 Aug

Memories, Dream, Reflection by Carl Jung and Anne Jaffe took me a good portion of the summer to read from cover to cover. This auto/biography has provided a great deal of meaning and symbolic significance to my personal perspective. I interacted with the text, reading and writing with a pen and highlighter handy; below are a few of many sentences extracted from the book that speak volumes in the space of a few sentences.

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being.


“Bidden or not bidden, God is present.” Carl Jung, the eminent psychologist, had this quote carved over the front door of his Zurich home, as well as on his tombstone. It is an English translation of the Latin “Vocatus Atque Non Vocatus Deus Aderit”, a quotation he came across when studying Erasmus. The words are said to originate from the reply given by Delphic Oracle to the Spartans when they were planning a war against Athens: “Yes, the Gods will be present, but in what form and to what purpose?”


Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away an ephemeral apparition.

When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilizations, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost a sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains.


When people say I am wise, or a sage, I cannot accept it. A man once dipped a hateful of water from a stream. What did that amount to? I am not that stream.

I am at the stream, but I do nothing. Other people are at the same stream, but most of them find they have to do something with it. I do nothing. I never think that I am the one who must see to it that cherries grow on stalks. I stand and behold, admiring what nature can do.

There is a fine old story about a student who came to a rabbi and said, “In the olden days there were men who saw the face of God. Why don’t they any more?” The rabbi replied, “Because nowadays no one can stoop so low”.

One must stoop a little in order to fetch water from the stream.



5 Responses to “Memories, Dreams, Reflections [Carl Jung]”

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  5. Kaif September 21, 2010 at 8:47 AM #

    Nice quotations.. there are some wonderfully thought-provoking lines one can find in Jung. I especially liked the part of the autobiography where he talks of his travels to Africa and to the native Americans. And also his views on death:

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