Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Golden World

(Here is the rough version of one of the pieces I'm still in the process of writing about this powerful CD collection from Sounds True. My only complaint about it is that it ended. I hope there will be a Golden World Part II.)

In this CD collection, revered author and Jungian analyst, Robert Johnson, offers us wisdom from his life and his vast reservoir of psychological knowledge. At 85 years old, he seems at times to struggle for breath. He speaks slowly, thoughtfully and with depth.

He is surprisingly vulnerable and open about sharing his vulnerability. His books, such as He, She, and We are some of the best in the field. One might expect him to be more distant, personally covert and linear. He categorizes himself as an introverted feeler; that is, an inner-directed person who relates best through feeling.

A series of synchronicities led him to Zurich, (at age 26) where coincidence brought him to the Jung Institute and analysis with its then founder (not Carl Jung who neither believed in nor ever set foot inside the institute.)

However, Mrs. Jung taught a class there on the Grail Myth, and Johnson was able to secure a meeting with her in which he related what he considered an important dream that his own analyst refused to hear.

Soon after, he received a call from Dr. Jung.

"Come to my office," Dr. Jung told him in English. "I want to talk at you."

And talk at him, he did. Having heard Johnson’s dream, Jung was able to lay out a future for the young man that Johnson still believes saved him years of missteps.

He talked to me in my typology, Johnson says. He characterizes Jung as an extroverted thinker, that is, someone who sees life in a linear way and is energized by the presence of others.

Jung possessed such remarkable intellect and intuition that he could relate to Johnson, not only in English, but also in the language of feeling, which is where the young man was most at home.

"Quit the Institute," Jung told him. "The best way to learn my work is through a private tutor."

Further, he advised him to embrace his introverted nature. "Do not marry but lead a life that allows you to follow a more internal path."

He saved me years of trying to be something I’m not, Johnson tells us.

Jungian typology:

Jung broke personalities into basic types. (I’ve heard that he borrowed some of this from the language of astrology.)

Most cultures have concepts for air, water, fire and earth which also correspond to these typologies.

Thinking, Feeling, Intuitive, and Sensate.

Jung also added introversion and extroversion as distinctions. A simple test to see whether you’re the former or the latter: as a generality, do you withdraw to replenish your energy or do you replenish your energy by being with people? Introverts tend to withdraw, extroverts seek company.

No one is all one type or all another but we tend to fall closer to one category than another. Thinkers are logical and linear; feelers relate through emotion and gut sense. Intuitives tend to know things without even knowing how or why they know. And sensates tune into the physical world and draw their conclusions from there.

To learn more: The four Ego Functions ...

Like many Jungians, Johnson believes countries fall into types, as well. America, he says, is an extroverted thinkers’ world. We reward the person behind the microscope. But we’re impoverished in terms of feeling and our language reflects it.

As an example, he cites Sanskrit, which has 96 words for love compared to our vast lexicon of words for the mechanistic world. India, he tells us, is an introverted feeling nation with all the positives and negatives that entails.

One quirky positive: riding a bike in India, a complete stranger on another bike will hold your hand for a time and then let go as your paths diverge. No words need even been exchanged.
The negatives include: caste systems, treatment of women, lack of facilities for clean water.