To Each Their Own Path

I was reading Carl Jung’s The Red Book and came across this (my own emphasis in bold)…

“It is no teaching and no instruction that I give you. On what basis should I presume to teach you? I give you news of the way of this man, but not of your own way. My path is not your path therefore I cannot teach you. The way is within us, but not in Gods, nor in teachings, nor in laws. Within us is the way, the truth, and the life.

“Woe betide those who live by way of examples! Life is not with them. If you live according to an example, you thus live the life of that example, but who should live your own life if not yourself? So live yourselves.

“…You seek the way through mere appearances, you study books and give ear to all kinds of opinion. What good is all that?

“There is only one way and that is your way.

“You seek the path? I warn you away from my own. It can also be the wrong way for you.

May each go his own way.

“…Giving laws, wanting improvements, making things easier, has all become wrong and evil. May each one seek out his own way. The way leads to mutual love in community. Men will come to see and feel the similarity and commonality of their ways.

“Laws and teachings held in common compel people to solitude, so that they may escape the pressure of undesirable contact, but solitude makes people hostile and venomous.

“Therefore give people dignity and let each of them stand apart, so that each may find his own fellowship and love it.

“Power stands against power, contempt against contempt, love against love. Give humanity dignity, and trust that life will find the better way.

–C.G. Jung, The Red Book (Liber Primus), page 231

Since coming across this, the notion has really stuck with me…

As a lifelong teacher, clinician, and lecturer (as well as deducing unique tarot readings for myself and others), instructing and offering guidance to others has always been a part of my very being. You can imagine, then, how powerfully Dr. Jung’s statement, “My path is not your path therefore I cannot teach you,” struck me.

As my life rolls on, I am regularly fascinated (and frustrated) by the conundrum of humanity’s seeming inability to learn and grow together. Having escaped a rigid evangelical background from my youth, I’m astonished at how well ingrained their precepts are yet in me. The basic notion of evangelism is that, if everyone would only think and behave in the approved manner of the tribe, there would be peace. In truth, this premise is rooted in all our basic longings and assumptions toward nationalism and community. “If we all agree with each other, there will be peace.” So, the community teaches its ways and precepts to others, in the expectation of bringing unity.

Where, in this then, is the freedom of individual will? How can numerous and diverse communities across the world hope to ultimately unify?

As Dr. Jung says, what if we were to release this deep, human tendency (as Buddhism suggests)? What if we were to let go of our habits of fixing others and their ideals to make them match our own, and simply acknowledged that we are all different? We are all on our own path, together and yet separate….

“Give humanity dignity, and trust that life will find the better way.”

Food for thought. 🙂

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