Lighting the Torch by Peter Birkhäuser, in Light From the Darkness: The Paintings of Peter Birkhäuser, p. 77


“Jung looked at how our inner work, when it goes to a depth sufficient to the demands that our soul is putting on us, when the work goes that deep, inevitably it brings the individual back out to the society to address the society with the lessons learned from the inner journey.”

Toybee talks at length about things like what he calls ‘withdrawal and return.’ An individual who is going to make a difference has to withdraw from the world – that’s Jung’s Red Book, for example – and look at themselves and find out what is making them tick, rightly and wrongly. And then return back to the world and articulate it. … That’s an ordeal. This is not follow your bliss. This is follow your ordeal. That it is, and it can, push people to the absolute limits of their endurance.”

“I tell people look, you don’t fit in? Good! Don’t! But, you are now taking a terrific responsibility on your shoulders because you’ve got to find out what’s right within you that's seeking birth, and when that’s born you’ve got to articulate it. And get ready for a battle.”

“What helps me, I think, as an analyst here is people think if they have a problem – ‘Oh, there’s something wrong with me’ – rather than, ‘Maybe I’m being tapped with my version of what’s wrong with the the society. And actually this is not that there’s something wrong with me, there’s something right with me [that’s] trying to be born.”

The creative person experiences the divine grace of being allowed to light his small torch at the fire of the Creator. [Peter Birkhäuser] once dreamed that he was given this grace. The animal face in the fire in the form of an eight-petalled flower signifies enlightenment and order in the chaos.
— Marie-Louise von Franz, Light From the Darkness: The Paintings of Peter Birkhäuser, p. 76

“Toynbee’s critique is concerned with are there people working on the society’s problem in themselves? Is there a transfer of the ‘field of action’ from the outside to the inside where I begin to work on what’s wrong out there, inside myself? If that happens, there’s hope. If the problems are simply fixed, it’s a temporary solution and the solution that is enacted will itself be a future problem. Genuine change has to begin on the inside.”

Politicians need to ask themselves, ‘What’s the minority population in me? What’s the police brutality in me?’

Sparks mentions Zainab Salbi’s talk at the Healing Trauma Summit. She said rage against the perpetrator is a necessary step but it doesn’t heal. ‘The healing step for me was when I began to see there is a tyrant in myself.’ … “That second part of healing is when we can see we are doing to others what has been done to us. … Her point is, it won’t be healed until we also see we are the perpetrators as well as the victims. That’s a huge step. When we withdraw the projection.”

“This word ‘projection’ is very complicated because people think when you say ‘withdraw the projection’ that the person you’re projecting onto doesn’t have those qualities. They may very well have those qualities, but so do you.”

“Personally, I support the rage against a corrupt patriarchal power structure. Now the question is whether we can begin seeing that corruption lives in us as well.”

Gary on my disgust at the political outrage I’m seeing: “I think it’s important to allow those emotions their place. Then to stop and say, ‘Where am I in this? Where is the distorted power structure in my own life?’”

“Look at what Jungian psychology has become, a sort of a bourgeois pablum that is way far from what Jung ever envisioned.”

“People are simply not interested in solving problems.”

Toynbee looked at “how a disintegrating society works on our soul destructively.”

Jungian analyst Joseph Henderson said, ‘Jung was a man who in theory shouldn’t have existed, but he did.’

“I had an analysand come to me. Very likable guy who had moved here from another state. And his previous analyst said, ‘You’re over-identified with Jung.’ Well, I just started swearing. I couldn’t stop. … Jungian psychology is not about Jung. That’s my feeling. All Jung did was hold a mirror up to processes inside us, and identify processes nobody else in the modern age and in a modern framework has seen. Namely, that hearing is a mystery, that the ego has its responsibilities but there is a world way beyond that which either helps us or doesn’t help us. That there is a mystery to events that we don't understand, yet we have to take responsibility for them. That there’s a link between our inner work and the outer world. That’s exactly what he says at the beginning of The Red Book. That’s all Jung did was just saw what the <bleep> is going on inside us. And if I pay attention to that, that’s an indication of my health. I’m interested in what’s going on inside me and inside the world. And for that I get accused of being over-identified with Jung. It’s a sickness on the part of whoever said that to that analysand. All Jung did was articulate the nature of the collective unconscious. Yes, I am personally interested in Jung, as I am interested in Mozart, Beethoven, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Hemingway, Fitzgerald – I’m interested in creative people, because that’s a lot of what shows up in my practice. And they’re different. So in a way, yes, I am interested in Jung as a creative personality. But as far as Jungian psychology goes, it is not about Jung. Jung just saw what is going on inside us without any blinders on. And yes, I’m gonna devote myself to that because I see how that helps people.”

“You know, people come to me as a last resort. I’m usually the fifth or sixth therapist they’ve seen. And they say to me, ‘If this hadn’t worked, I would have killed myself.’ And the reason it works is because they are touched by this mystery that seizes them. I don’t tell them how to think, I don’t tell them what their parents did to them, I don’t tell them what they should do, we just listen to that world that Jung has described, and they fall in love with themselves because they see the beauty inside themselves that Jung has seen. And I sure as hell am not going to let anybody belittle that.”

“Jungian psychology is not about ideas, it’s about experiences.”

“It’s simple: Freud was an atheist and Jung was not.”

“The war was being played out inside himself.”

“If you endure the conflict, it resolves.”

“That’s why I think The Red Book is so important – it shows how he [Jung] came upon his psychology by noticing it happening in himself. And he spent the next forty years writing about it.”

“I fear people are only getting half an analysis. … If you only go in, you won’t come out. … The Self says, ‘No, you go back out there and do this.’ … Dreams [must be] taken seriously.”

To go back out into the world “not as a should but as an is. … That’s what we come to in a fully lived, mature analytic process.”

“How does disease and the body carry symbolic significance? How does the psyche relate to the outer world?” {See Anne Maguire’s work.}

“Jung had one very big problem that nobody wants to talk about.” {Listen to the episode to find out what that is!}

Listen to the full episode with J. Gary Sparks