Liber Secundus: Individuation as Integration

IzdubarAn excerpt by Murray Stein, Ph.D. from AJC10: Carl Jung’s Red Book

[Join us in our 4th Seminar on Carl Jung's Redbook, Presented this time by Curtis Hoffman]

The first part of Carl Jung’s Red Book was more about separation, in the second part Jung begins integrating several important things.  You could also refer to the section as a holy illness and the constellation or the birth of the wounded healer because Jung has to accept his holy illness, his craziness if you will, his own psychic reality.

On the first day, it says erste tag, this is the 8th of January 1914, chapter eight, Jung is traveling to the east.  He traveled to the north, where he met death.  Now, he is going to the east.  As he goes to the east he comes upon a figure, a mythological figure named Izdubar the mighty.  This is where Jung paints his first big picture in The Red Book, I do not care much for the picture but it is quite an impressive figure.  He is a giant of a figure, Izdubar the mighty, there you see him.  Izdubar comes from the east, he is a figure of the east and Sonu Shamdashani writes something in a footnote about him, that he is related to Gilgamesh and so on.  He is a mythological figure and he is wounded.  He comes from the land of faith and belief and he has been wounded by reports that he has gotten that in the west.

He wants to go to the west, in the west there is a very different attitude towards religion and faith, very skeptical, very scientific, and Jung comes from the west to the east and they confront each other.  Izdubar represents the mythological man, mythological attitude, an early sort of pre-enlightenment, pre-Christian even or eastern religious, people who to this day go to India.  They say it is a very spiritual place, it is so different from the west, from Europe or North America.  Izdubar comes from the east, or rather from the Middle East, comes this way for his meeting with Jung.  Jung wants to go to the east and Izdubar says, “don’t go to the east, it will blind you, the sun is too bright for you there.” So he warns Jung not to go to the east and Jung is sorry for him because he has been wounded by science, he says, “in the west we no longer have faith, we no longer have religion, God is dead.  Nietzsche announced it years ago and what we have now is science and science wounds religion.  If you come to the west, it will destroy you, they will take you apart, they will analyze you to pieces, they will reduce you to rubble.  You can’t go to the west.” And so, they are stuck there and Izdubar is wounded, Jung feels sorry for him but he is too big to pick up.  What is he going to do with him?  How can he heal him?  That becomes the problem and the question.

So Jung comes upon an ingenious idea.  He says, “I am going to treat Izdubar as a fantasy.  I am going to say he is just a fantasy, and then I can take this big figure and I am going to put him in a tiny shell, an eggshell, put him in my pocket and go back home, go back to the west.  And, as long as I have got him in my pocket nobody will see him, they can’t attack him, and I will just carry this mythological attitude home and hold it secretly and that will offer it protection.  And then, while it is there I will try to heal it.”

So he does that, he putsRed Book Boat him in an egg, goes home with him, and then when he gets home, having made religion a private affair, hidden it away in his pocket, this is the solution.  This is how you can be religious in the atheistic, scientific, enlightenment west.  You can be secretly, you can be secretly religious.  Keep it in your pocket, do not tell anybody about it.  And so when he gets home with it he realizes it’s still is not healed, it is in the egg and he has to breathe life into it, he has to bring it back to life.  So, there is this section called the incantations which was inserted later where he does these prayers and incantations to bring Izdubar back, to heal him, bring him back to life and here you see Jung as spiritual healer at work, breathing life into this figure Izdubar, and he is successful, he is immensely successful.  He opens the egg in chapter eleven, and Izdubar comes out of the egg, healed and well like a reborn son, and he rises up and he returns to where he came from, to the east where the sun rises.

So he is a healed mythological man but he leaves Jung behind and now there is a separation again.  Jung then realized that he could not go to the east for religion.  He writes about this later, he says, “It is a mistake to try to mimic eastern religions.  We have to stay true to our own history, to our own path, that is not the way for us.”  It certainly was not for him although he learned a lot about eastern religions and he even traveled to India and so on.  Jung was not in favor of leaving your own belief, whatever that is, and in the west it is Christianity, Judaism, whatever your tradition happens to be, but rather to go with it, to try to elaborate or carry it further, but not to leave it behind or go after something else and tried to mimic the people of the east.  So Izdubar returns, retreats, and Jung have realized he cannot regress to being a mythological person, taking on mythological meanings and living in a phony mythology.  It would not work, he was too honest.  He was scientific, he was enlightenment man.  He had a statue of Voltaire in his study, you know, the arch enlightenment figure for another reason, which I will tell you later, so mythological man, heal it and leave it be.

Let us know your thoughts on Liber Secundus by commenting below.  Stay tuned for Dr. Curtiss Hoffman’s blog response to this excerpt by Dr. Murray Stein.

For more insight into Carl Jung’s Red Book you may attend our Webinar on Thursday, February 28th titled, “Cross-Cultural Symbolism in C.G. Jung’s Red Book: An Anthropological Exploration.”  You may also find many other exciting information on our Red Book page.

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