Carl Gustav Jung - The world hangs on a thin thread....
Type of Spiritual Experience
Marie-Louise von Franz (4 January 1915 – 17 February 1998) was a Swiss Jungian psychologist and scholar, renowned for her psychological interpretations of fairy tales and of alchemical manuscripts.
In Zurich, at the age of 18, in 1933, when about to finish secondary school, von Franz met the psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung when, together with a classmate and nephew of Jung's assistant Toni Wolff, she and seven boys she had befriended were invited by Jung to his Bollingen Tower near Zurich. For von Franz, this was a powerful and "decisive encounter of her life", as she told her sister later the same evening
In addition to her university studies, von Franz occupied herself with Jungian psychology. She attended Jung's psychological lectures at the Swiss Federal Polytechnical School in Zurich (now the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich) and, in 1935 and thereafter, also attended his psychological seminars. In 1934 she started analytical training with Jung
In order to pay C.G. Jung for her training analysis, she translated works for him from Greek and Latin texts. Among others, she translated two major alchemical manuscripts: Aurora Consurgens, which has been attributed to Thomas Aquinas, and Musaeum Hermeticum. As many of its passages were of Islamic and Persian origin, M.-L. von Franz took up Arabic as study subject at university.
This was the beginning of a long-standing collaboration with C.G. Jung, which continued until his death in 1961.
A description of the experience
Video of Carl Jung's famous statement, "The world hangs on a thin thread, and that is the psyche of man...." (The complete transcript of the video is below.)
Jung: The world hangs on a thin thread, and that is the psyche of man. Nowadays we are not threatened by elementary catastrophes. There is no such thing [in nature] as an H-bomb; that is all man's doing. WE are the great danger. The psyche is the great danger. What if something goes wrong with the psyche? You see, and so it is demonstrated to us in our days what the power of the psyche is of man, how important it is to know something about it. But we know nothing about it. Nobody would give credit to the idea that the psychical processes of the ordinary man have any importance whatever. One thinks, "Oh, he has just what he has in his head. He is all from his surroundings, he is taught such and such a thing, believes such and such a thing, and particularly if he is well housed and well fed, then he has no ideas at all." And that's the great mistake because he is just that as which he is born, and he is not born as "tabula rasa," but as a reality.
Interviewer: Jung had a vision at the end of his life of a catastrophe. It was a world catastrophe.
Marie-Louise von Franz: I don't want to speak much about it. One of his daughters took notes and after his death gave it to me, and there is a drawing with a line going up and down, and underneath is "the last 50 years of humanity." And some remarks about a final catastrophe being ahead. But I have only those notes.
Interviewer: What is your own feeling about it, the world situation?
von Franz: Well, one's whole feeling revolts aginst this idea but since I have those notes in a drawer, I don't allow myself to be too optimistic. I think, well, we have always had wars and enormous catastrophies, and I have no more personal fear much about that. I mean at my age, if you have anyhow soon to go— so or so egocentrically spoken. But the beauty of all the life— to think that the billions and billions and billions of years of evolution to build up the plants and the animals and the whole beauty of nature— and that man would go out of sheer shadow foolishness and destroy it all. I mean that all life might go from the planet. And we don't know— on Mars and Venus there is no life; we don't know if there is any life experiment elsewhere in the galaxies. And we go and destroy this. I think it is so abominable. I try to pray that it may not happen— that a miracle happens.
Interviewer: Do you find that young people that you see now are aware of that? That it's in their consciousness?
von Franz: Yes it's partly in their unconscious and partly in their consciousness, and I think in a very dangerous way, namely, in a way of giving up and running away into a fantasy world. You know, when you study science fiction, you see there's always the fantasy of escaping to some other planet and begin anew again, which means give up the battle on this earth, consider it hopeless and give up. I think one shouldn't give up, because if you think of [Jung's book] Answer to Job, if man would wrestle with God, if man would tell God that he shouldn't do it, if we would reflect more. That why reflection comes in. Jung never thought that we might do better than just possibly sneak round the corner with not too big a catastrophe.
When I saw him last, he had also a vision while I was with him, but there he said, "I see enormous stretches devastated, enormous stretches of the earth. But, thank God it's not the whole planet." I think that if not more people try to reflect and take back their projections and take the opposites within themselves, there will be a total destruction.
(From the film, "Matter of Heart," directed, edited, and produced by Mark Whitney, conceived and written by Suzanne Wagner, executive producer George Wagner.)