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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Carl Jung on the “Great Dream” of a Modern Man.

To Patrick Evans

Dear Mr. Evans, 1 September 1956

Thank you for telling me of your interesting dream.

The dream is quite remarkable in its simplicity.

It is what the primitives would call a "great dream."

Your attempt at an interpretation is not wrong, but it is a sort of sideline, though important in itself.

The essential dream-image: the Man, the Tree, the Stone, looks quite inaccessible, but only to our modern consciousness which is, as a rule, unconscious of its historical roots.

The first thing I would do in such a case is the following: I would try to establish the relationship of the symbolism to its historical antecedents, namely to the identical ideas that have played a role in the immediate or the remote past.

Take the first item: the Man.

The Man leads you straight to the Bible.

There the Man is Adam, then there is the "Son of Man" who is Christ.

Then you have the idea of the Primordial Man as it appears in the Kabbalah: Adam Kadmon, and the figure of the Anthropos who is described by Ezekiel, Daniel and in the Book of Enoch.

This idea of the Man played a considerable role during the whole of the Middle Ages as far as the 18th century in alchemical philosophy.

The same is true of the two other items: the Tree and the Stone.

The Stone is still alive in Freemasonry.

For more information I should advise you to study my book Psychology and Alchemy, where you can find any amount of material for your three symbols.

I also have devoted a special study to the Tree-symbol but it has not appeared in English yet.

The interesting fact is that quite independently of tradition these symbols are reproduced in dreams of many modern individuals.

They are expressions of latent archetypes inherited from time immemorial.

It is the most characteristic quality of the archetype that it is numinous, i.e., it has a sort of emotional charge that seizes consciousness whenever an archetypal image or situation occurs.

That explains the rather unusual impression the dream made upon you.

The Man means Man as he has been in the beginning and / or as he should be in the future, the complete or total Man.

The Tree expresses development, growth from the hidden roots.

The evolution towards totality.

The Stone means, particularly in the form of the Philosophers Stone, the attainment of totality and immutability for which the Stone is a very apt symbol.

As Adam, according to certain traditions, was created in the form of a lifeless statue, so the second Adam, i.e., the total Man, will become a stone, yet alive, as is said in the New Testament: transmutemini in vivos lapides.

The three symbols of your dream form the heads of columns like titles, suggesting that the empty columns have yet to be filled out by contents.

The general theme is clear.

It can be formulated as the following questions: what is Man? what is the way of his development? what is his goal?

The psychology of the unconscious has much to say in the way of answers.

My book Psychology and Alchemy or my little essay "Psychology and Religion" can give you hints in that direction.

You are quite right in assuming that these questions have somehow to do with mathematics, i.e., the theory of numbers, but in the first place it will be the symbolism of numbers that has to be understood.

You are quite right in identifying the Man with 3, or the Stone With 5 , if you think of the latter as a quincunx and not as a series of numerical units.

The 4 as Tree means the unfolding of the One in 3, since the Man (Anthropos) is the visible manifestation of the original One, i.e., God.

The fact is that the numbers pre-existing in nature are presumably the most fundamental archetypes, being the very matrix of all others.

Here Pythagoras was certainly on the right track and we modern men have forgotten this aspect of the pre-existing numbers because we were only busy manipulating numbers for the sake of counting and calculating.

But Number is a factor pre-existent to man, with unforeseen qualities yet to be discovered by him.

Hoping this may shed some light on your dream,

I remain,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 325-327.