… in content [The Secret of the Golden Flower] is a living paralel to what takes place in the psychic development of my patients, none of whom is Chinese.

In order to make this strange fact more intelligible to the reader, it must be pointed out that just as the human body shows a common anatomy over and above all racial differences, so, too, the psyche possesses a common substratum transcending all differences in culture and consciousness. I have called this substratum the collective unconscious.

This unconscious psyche, common to all mankind, does not consist merely of contents capable of becoming conscious, but of latent dispositions towards certain identical reactions. Thus the fact of the collective unconscious is simply the psychic expression of the identity of brain-structure irrespective of all racial differences.

This explains the analogy, sometimes even identity, between various myth-motifs, and symbols, and the possibility of human beings making themselves mutually understood. The various lines of psychic development start from one common stock whose roots reach back into all the strata of the past. This also explains the psychological parallelisms with animals.

Taken purely psychologically, it means that mankind has common instincts of imagination and of action. All conscious imagination and action have been developed with these unconscious archetypal images as their basis, and always remain bound up with them. Especially is this the case when consciousness has not attained any high degree of clarity, that is, when, in all its functions, it is more dependent on the instincts than on the conscious will, more governed by affect than by rational judgement.

This condition ensures a primitive health of the psyche, which, however, immediately becomes lack of adaptation as soon as circumstances arise calling for a higher moral effort. Instincts suffice only for the individual embedded in nature, which, on the whole, remains always the same. An individual who is more guided by unconscious than by conscious choice tends therefore towards marked psychic conservatism.

This is the reason the primitive does not change in the course of thousands of years, and it is also the reason why he fears everything strange and unusual. It might lead him to maladaptation, and thus to the greatest of psychic dangers, to a kind of neurosis in fact.

A higher and wider consciousness, which comes about only through assimilation of the unfamiliar, tends toward autonomy, towards revolution against the old gods who are nothing other than those powerful, unconscious, archetypal images which have always held consciousness in thrall.

The more powerful and independent consciousness, and with it the conscious will, become, the more the unconscious is forced into the background. When this happens, it is easily possible for the conscious structures to detach themselves from the unconscious archetypes. Gaining thus in freedom, they break the chains of mere instinctiveness, and finally arrive at a state that is deprived of, or contrary to, instinct.

Consciousness thus is torn from its roots and no longer able to appeal to the authority of the archetypal images; it has Promethean freedom, it is true, but also a godless hybris. It  does indeed soar above the earth, even above mankind, but the danger of an upset is there, not for every individual, to be sure, but collectively for the weak members of such a society, who then, again like the Prometheus, are chained to the Caucasus by the unconscious.

The wise Chinese would say in the words of the I Ching: When yang has reached its greatest strength, the dark power of yin is born within its depths, for night begins at midday when yang breaks up and begins to change yin.

. . .

Similar cases of one-sided exaggeration in the conscious standpoint, and of the corresponding yin reaction of the unconscious, form no small part of the practice of psychiatrists in our time, which so overvalues the conscious will as to believe that ‘where there is a will there is a way.’

Not that I wish to detract in the least from the high moral value of conscious willing; consciousness and will may well continue to be considered the highest cultural achievements of humanity. But of what use is a morality that destroys the human being? To bring will and capacity into harmony seems to me to be a better thing than morality.

Morality à tout prix is a sign of barbarism–more often wisdom is better–but perhaps I look at this through the professional glasses of the physician who has to mend the ills following in the wake of an exaggerated cultural achievement.

. . .

And here we come to the path traveled by the East from time immemorial. Quite obviously, the Chinese owes the finding of this path to the fact that he was never able to force the opposites in human nature so far apart that all conscious connection between them was lost.

The Chinese has such all-inclusive consciousness because, as in the case of primitive mentality, the yea and the nay have remained in their original proximity. None the less, he could not escape feeling the collision of the opposites, and therefore he sought out that way of life in which he would be what the Hindu terms nirdvandva, free of the opposites.

. . .

I always worked with the temperamental conviction that fundamentally there are no insoluble problems, and experience justified me in so far as I have often seen individuals simply outgrow a problem which had destroyed others.

This ‘outgrowing,’ as I formerly called it, on further expression was seen to consist in a new level of consciousness. Some higher or wider interest arose on the person’s horizon, and through this widening of his view the insoluble problem lost its urgency. It was not solved logically in its own terms, but faded out when confronted with a new and stronger life-tendency. It was not repressed and made unconscious, but merely appeared in a different light, and so did indeed become different. What, on a lower level, had led to the wildest conflicts and to panicky outbursts of emotion, viewed from the higher level of the personality, now seemed like a storm in the valley seen from a high mountain-top.

This does not mean that the storm is robbed of its reality, but instead of being in it, one is now above it. However , since we are both valley and mountain with respect to the psyche, it might seem a vain illusion to feel oneself beyond what is human. One certainly does feel the affect and is shaken and tormented by it, yet at the same time one is aware of a higher consciousness, which prevents one from becoming identical with the affect, a consciousness which takes the affect objectively, and can say, ‘I know that I suffer.’

What our text says of indolence: ‘Indolence of which a man is conscious and indolence of which he is unconscious are a thousand miles apart,’ holds true in the highest degree of affect also.

I had learned in the meanwhile that the greatest and most important problems of life are all in a certain sense insoluble. They must be so because they express the necessary polarity inherent in every self-regulating system. They can never be solved, but only outgrown. I therefore asked myself whether this possibility of outgrowing, that is, further psychic development, was not the normal thing, and therefore remaining stuck in a conflict was what was pathological. Everyone must possess that higher level, at least in embryonic form, and in favourable circumstances must be able to develop this possibility.

When I examined the way of development of those persons who quietly and, as if unconsciously, grew beyond themselves, I came to them out of obscure possibilities either outside or inside themselves; they accepted it and developed further by means of it. It seemed to me typical that some took the new thing from outside themselves, others from within; or rather that it grew into some persons from without, and into others from within. But the new thing never came exclusively either from within or from without. If it arose from outside, it became a deeply subjective experience; if it arose from within, it became an outer event. In no case was it conjured into existence through purpose and conscious willing, but rather seemed to be borne on the stream of time.

If one is successful in overcoming the initial difficulties, criticism is still likely to start in afterwards and attempt to interpret the fantasy, to classify, to aestheticize, or to depreciate it. The temptation to do this is almost irresistible. After complete and faithful observation, free rein can be given to the impatience of the conscious mind; in fact it must be given, else obstructing resistances develop. But each time the fantasy material is to be produced, the activity of the consciousness must again be put aside.

In most cases the results of these efforts are not very encouraging at first. They usually consist of webs of fantasy which yield no clear knowledge of their origin or goal. Also, the way of getting at the fantasies is individually different. For many people it is easiest to write them; others visualize them, and others again draw and paint them with or without visualization. In cases of a high degree of conscious cramp, oftentimes the hands alone can fantasy; they model or draw figures that are often quite foreign to the conscious mind.

These exercises must be continued until the cramp in the conscious mind is released, or, in other words, until one can let things happen, which was the immediate goal of the exercise. In this way a new attitude is created, an attitude which accepts the non-rational and the incomprehensible, simply because it is what is happening.

This attitude would be poison for a person who had already been overwhelmed by things that just happen, but it is of the highest value for one who chooses, with an exclusively conscious critique, only the things acceptable to his consciousness from among the things that happen, and thus is gradually drawn out of the stream of life into stagnant backwater.

At this point, the way traveled by the two types mentioned above seems to be separate. Both have learned to accept what comes to them. (As Master Lu-tsu teaches: ‘When occupations come to us we must accept them; when things come to us we must understand them from the ground up.’) One man will chiefly take what comes to him from without, and the other what comes from within, and, according to the law of life, the one will have to take from the outside something he never could accept before from outside, and the other will accept from within things which would always have been excluded before.

This reversal of one’s being means an enlargement, heightening, and enrichment of the personality when the previous values are retained along with the change, provided, of course, that these values are not mere illusions. If the values are not retained, the individual goes over to the other side, and passes from fitness to unfitness, from adaptation to the lack of it, from sense to nonsense, and even from rationality to mental disturbance.

The way is not without danger. Everything good is costly, and the development of the personality is one of the most costly of all things. It is a question of yea-saying to oneself, of taking one’s self as the most serious of tasks, of being conscious of everything one does, and keeping it constantly before one’s eyes in all its dubious aspects–truly a task that taxes us to the utmost.

The Chinese can fall back upon the authority of his entire culture. If he starts on the long way, he does what is recognized as being the best of all the things he could do. But the Westerner who wishes to start upon this way, if he is truly serious about it, has all authority against him–intellectual, moral, and religious.

This is why it is infinitely easier for a man to imitate the Chinese way, and desert the troublesome European, or else to seek again the way back to the medievalism of the Christian Church, and build up once more the European wall intended to separate true Christians from the poor heathen and the ethnographic curiosities dwelling outside.

Aesthetic or intellectual flirtations with life and fate come to an abrupt end here. The step to higher consciousness leads us out and away from all rear-guard cover and from all safety measures. The individual must give himself to the new way completely, for it is only by means of his integrity that he can go further, and only his integrity can guarantee that his way does not turn out to be an absurd adventure.