Heidekolb's Blog

On the value of time and what it takes to be a Jungian | October 26, 2009

The alchemists, and I consider Jung to be one of them, were guided by the belief that in order to fully comprehend a text one needs to follow the Latin dictum of “lege, lege, lege, et relege”. The English translation means,”read, read, read and then read again”. A work of the magnitude of the Red Book most likely needs to be read four times. I have just begun my first reading, it will take time.

Time is such an interesting concept. From psyche’s point of view there is no such thing as time. Psyche lives in the experience of the eternal moment that includes past and future. The conscious personality, the ego, has difficulties wrapping its head around such an idea. And for good reason, linear ego time is all too real in lived life. Whether we like it or not, we grow older, “time” moves on and one day we will “run out of time”. I often struggle to “make time” for what really feels important. Jung worked diligently and with unwavering focus from about 1913 to 1930 on what was to become the Red Book (RB). That is a long time. He painstakingly devoted seventeen years of his life to a self experiment that became known as his confrontation with the unconscious and ultimately resulted in the RB. He gained all material for his later works, now published as the Collected Works of C.G. Jung, from this confrontation. It was a humbling reminder of the energy, devotion and, yes, time it takes to establish a fruitful relationship to the unconscious. I was reminded of how often I had a dream that felt meaningful. I may have written it down, engaged the images for some time and then moved on. Jung was always very clear on the fact that there is a proportional relationship between the effort, (which I define as the investment of energy, intent and time) one puts towards the unconscious and the fruits this labor can bring forth.

I don’t think I ever felt as clearly as I do now what it is that defines a Jungian.  It is not that one has the credentials of being a Jungian analyst, it is not years of Jungian analysis, nor is it the reading of Jung’s writings up and down and four times back and forth. None of that may hurt, but the defining quality will always be the courage and strength to confront the unconscious, this invisible world as it manifests within each one of us. The persistence to bring forth meaning and to follow the path that will form out of it. A truthful Jungian will find the courage to walk his own path, with the highest degree of consciousness possible. Much easier said than done, I know. But this attitude is a Jungian’s North Star, a point of  orientation and navigation. I quote Jung from the RB, p. 231 ” Believe me, it is no teaching and instruction I give you. On what basis should I presume to teach you? I give you news of the way of this man, but not of your own way. My path is not your path, therefore I cannot teach you. The way is within us, but not in Gods, nor in teachings, nor in laws. Within us is the way, the truth, and the life”.

The Red Book by C.G. Jung

Edited and Introduced by Sonu Shamdasani

Philemon Series, 2009


  1. Beautifully written. It reminds me of my own quest to see God in all beings, sentient and insentient. You write it with such clarity. I look forward to future writings from you.


    Comment by Charles Kress — October 26, 2009 @ 12:37 am

  2. Senor Jung had a humble way about him. He did teach and instruct, vicariously he still does. It is important for all of us to see that much of the ‘work’ that needs to be done is within in relation to knowing our inner self, including the unconscious. To Jung, the goal of psychoanalysis is to make the unconscious conscious and thus we raise it from a lower level to a higher level of consciousness, thus, it is no longer unconscious.

    I most appreciate Jung’s open-mindedness and his courage to explore into areas that we previously unknown to many.

    He was the trigger with his idea of spiritual conversation that indirectly sparked the A.A. Movement.

    Comment by ~Peta-de-Aztlan~ — January 2, 2010 @ 8:30 pm

  3. I recently read about the Red Book and I am eager to read it though I believe he is right to say that the truth and the light is within each of us and we do not need any book to re-Member. The way of the luminous warrior is very much walking into the unconscious, braving the fires of fear and shedding the past and programming that separates us from the truth of our essence. Symbolic thought, as Jung taught about and as dream analysts discuss, is also our pre-lingual thought. Babies come into this world experiencing every moment symbolically, conceptually, with senses and emotions and intuition. Somewhere in our infancy and early childhood our lingual brains begin to bury the magic of our birth and purpose…Jung points us back to the image that speaks a thousand words of which there are no words to adequately describe an individual truth. Jung was/is a mystic. He was/is a Shaman. Thank you for sharing your insights and experience with his work. I am thrilled to find this marker along my own path and know that I share your company.

    Comment by Lisa Merrai — January 3, 2010 @ 12:21 am

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