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Lions Roar : May 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN MAy 2010 83 lightenment. at the other end of the scale of involuntary processes are schizophrenia and mania. Jung knew a lot about madness and at the same time had a trust in the resources of the deep psyche that give us dreams, fantasies, visions, and symptoms. That trust and the courtesy with which he approaches the inner life is probably the main feature of his work, the thing that differentiates him most clearly from Freud. The practice that Jung records in The Red Book was to sit down and quiet his mind and see what figures of fantasy and vision came into his awareness. he would converse with them, then he would write about the encounter and paint the scene. When you open The Red Book it is a shock—you have fallen into an involuntary process. It is first of all a visual experience. Jung wrote in different colors and sizes of german script, with elabo- rate initial letters on the page, as in an illuminated manuscript of the high Middle ages. he painted trees and dragons, madonnas with child, mysterious veiled women, and men with wings. he painted lots of mandalas, which he saw as both diagnostic of the state of his psyche and as having an organizing capacity. The problem of the period when Jung begins The Red Book, just before the start of the First World War, seemed to be that a certain kind of analytic thought process that left out much of re- ality was in charge of European culture, and that the parts of the psyche that were left out were taking revenge in irrationalism. Jung (in common with other prominent figures like kandinsky) The red book by C.g. Jung W.W. Norton, 2009; 416 pp.; $195 (cloth) RevieWeD By JoHN TaRRaNT Fantastic Voyage Reviews IMagEsREPRINTEDFRoMThEREDBookBYC.g.JUNg©ThEFoUNDaTIoNoFThEWoRksoFC.g.JUNg.WIThPERMIssIoNoFThEPUBLIshER,W.W.NoRToN&CoMPaNY,INC. WhEN I Was aN UNDERgRaDUaTE, somebody’s aunt in her eighties came to stay with us for a couple of weeks. she was a Jungian analyst and every morning sat out under the Chinese elm tree in the garden for two hours, keeping company with her dreams and meditating. I knew my life was in certain ways fool- ish and even desperate, but around her I could feel light, grace, and forgiveness. That was my first exposure to Jungian work. Though it started out in psychiatry and still makes valiant at- tempts to board the mental health train, the Jungian work can probably best be thought of as a practice. It is a way of having, in a Western pack- age, the sort of thing that Eastern religion gives you. It continues to interest us because its goal is not belief but transformation. If you stop for a moment and look inside, you immediately notice the traffic in the mind. If you stop for a long moment, perhaps in a retreat, the surface effects fade and other odd things happen. You find yourself in forgotten memories and obsessions, and talking to people you don’t know or who are dead and so on. The navigation decisions you make at that moment are a determinant of your spiritual path. Jung chose to walk into this territory, and The Red Book is a vivid record of his travels and discoveries. It was also in a certain way the means of Jung’s journey. Jung began The Red Book around 1912 and abandoned it around 1930. It is an illustrated account of his personal practice and discoveries and also, you might say, an account of how he got to be Jung. The book records an open-ended, exploratory, yet disciplined practice, conducted over many years by one of the great minds of the twentieth century. sometimes he thought that he might be going mad but persevered; madness became a metaphor for leaving behind the world he knew. Madness and spirituality have something in common, in that they both set in motion involuntary processes. spiritual paths call it things like surrender and spontaneous healing and en-