Temet Nosce — We cannot change anything unless we accept it — from Carl Jung lecture

Why “know thyself”? How do we handle ourselves and others and relationships in between properly? Why acceptance, of both good and evil? How to be compassionate? Why words are so futile? Why pretense never works? Why gives a shit? Even the question, how do we “save the world”?

In this world that is yet dictated by 19th centry Newtonian mechanics and Freudian psychological concept of libido (and thus the suppression of it), this powerful and refreshing Carl Jung excerpt provides hints that originated from a lecture a group of clergy .

Note: not answers.

Something to think about before launching a war (with drugs and psycho-analysis) against your own “libido” or some “wild unconsciousness”.
Something to think about before calling a fight against something “evil” out there from some “moral high ground”.
Something to think about before trying to save the world.


“People forget that even doctors have moral scruples and that certain patients’ confessions are hard even for a doctor to swallow. Yet the patient does not feel himself accepted unless the very worst in him is accepted too. No one can bring this about by mere words, it comes only through reflexion and through the doctors attitude towards himself and his own dark side.

If the doctor wants to guide another or even accompany him a step of the way, he must feel with that person’s psyche. He never feels it when he passes judgment. wether he puts his judgment into words or keeps them to himself makes not the slightest difference. To take the opposite position and to agree with the patient off-hand is also of no use, but estranges him as much as condemnation. This feeling comes only through unprejudiced objectivity.

This sounds almost like a scientific precept and it could be confused with a purely intellectual abstract attitude of mind, but what I mean is something quite different.

It is a human quality, a kind of deep respect for the facts, for the man who suffers from them, and for the riddle of such a man’s life. The truly religious person has this attitude: he knows that god has brought all sorts of strange and inconceivable things to pass and seeks in the most curious of ways to enter a mans heart. He therefore senses in everything the unseen presence of the divine will. This is what I mean by unprejudiced objectivity, it is a moral achievement on the part of the doctor, who ought not to be repelled by sickness and corruption.

We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses and I am the oppressor of the person I condemn, not his friend and fellow sufferer. I do not in the least mean to say that we must never pass judgment when we desire to help and improve, but if the doctor wishes to help a human being he must be able to accept him as he is, and he can do this in reality only when he has already seen and accepted himself as he is.

Perhaps this sounds very simple, but simple things are always the most difficult.

In actual life it requires the greatest art to be simple, and so acceptance of one’s self is the essence of the moral problem and the acid test of one’s whole outlook on life. That I feed the beggar, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ; all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ.

But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all beggars, the most imputed of all offenders, yay that the very fiend himself, that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of my own kindness, that I myself am the enemy who must be loved, what then?

Then, as a rule, the whole truth of Christianity is reversed. there is then no more talk of love and long-suffering. We say to the brother within us: “raka!” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide him from the world, we deny ever having met this least of the lowly in ourselves, and had it been God himself who drew near to us in this despicable form, we should have denied him a thousand times before a single cock had crowed.”

Originally posted 2010-03-24 22:38:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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