This is currently on my reading shelf. That, along with Richard Tarnas’ “Cosmos and Psyche.” They make a good match. One is delving into astrology and synchronicity, the other is going to the heart of the matter, the man probably most responsible for popularizing and introducing these ideas into modern consciousness.
One thing I’ve noticed in reading Jung’s autobiography is that it is full of his dreams. Literally, it’s got at least a few dreams in every chapter. It’s wonderful getting into his mind and seeing how he interprets the dreams, their symbols, and somehow applies them to his waking endeavors. Much of Jung’s insights and discoveries come from the depths of the unconscious, so his dreaming life was, at times more important than his waking life (which was more like a life-line, to keep him grounded).
I like the book because dreams have always fascinated me too. I’ve tried to take up amateur dream interpretation and have kept the semblance of a dream journal. At times I directly speak to my unconscious and ask it to “speak to me through my dreams tonight.” This often works well. When feelings bubble up and I’m not sure why, I now try to “invite them” to express themselves and take whatever form the unconscious might need in order to do so.
During an intense meditation session a few months ago I noticed that images in a dream are packed with meaning and significance. They are like living symbols. Often enough when we wake up we have no idea what they mean. In fact they usually make more sense while asleep. Sometimes, all meaning is lost. Other times we can make an effort to consciously interpret and understand the reason why so-and-so appeared in our dream and why he/she was holding object “X.” Dreams have a language the conscious mind cannot understand easily with its reasoning.
What profoundly moves me about Jung’s work is that he seems to have been keenly able to attune his mind to the language of the unconscious, to go deep-sea diving and return with a kind of “philosophers stone” to bridge gap between conscious and unconscious mind.
My own realizations with dream work and observing how thoughts arise appear to be gaining confirmation from Jung’s book. He appears to have practiced some yogic exercises of silencing the conscious mind. However, when the unconscious mind spoke he listened attentively, and explored thoroughly.
One common theme I’ve noticed is that all dreams have an intensely creative way to display the state of your psyche. Environments often represent your Self and its many aspects. Actions, people, placement, etc are all significant.
Being a fan of listening to other’s tell their dreams, I enjoyed one dream of Jung’s in particular.
He was in an ancient crypt that dated back for centuries. The most recent corpses were towards the front and the more ancient bodies were deeper inside. He examined a body of someone from the 1700’s. Upon close inspection, he noticed the hands began to move. But only when looking at it.
Each body in the crypt seemed to repeat the same action. When closely inspecting the corpse, the hands began to move and it appeared alive. He did so with every body, going back to area where medieval-aged corpses laid to rest.
Jung confessed (often in the book too) that he didn’t understand the significance of the dream right away. Eventually it dawned on him that the dream was speaking of the unconscious. Old memories from childhood were not just “thoughts” like forgotten dusty bookshelves. They were still alive. The unconscious was not merely a warehouse but more like a crypt, where the bodies of memories and feelings may appear long-past but are indeed still living. This eventually helped him formulate his many theories on the unconscious mind.
I just thought I’d share one of the many fascinating dreams Jung describes in the book. Back to reading for now!