Carl Jung’s Funeral Sermon given by Pastor Werner Meyer
Psalm 8: How majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Children and infants praise you. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honour. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea. Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
With thanksgiving for abundance of his work and the rich harvest of his mind, we take leave from Carl Gustav Jung, born Kesswil, Switzerland, 1875 - whom it pleased God to call from this world.
The great question which urged the departed throughout his life is the question of our Psalm: ‘What is mankind?’
We inscribe over this life which has now been completed on earth, a few sentences from the 13th chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians:
“And if I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all gnosis; and though I have a faith that could move mountains, and have not love, I am nothing …… Love never fails. When there are prophecies, they will cease; where there is knowledge, gnosis, it shall pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. When I was a child, I thought like a child; but when I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. Now, we see through a glass, darkly; then, we shall see face to face. Now we know in part; but then shall I know, even as I am fully know.”
Dear mourners and companions in sorrows!
To praise men is not customary among Christians.
To One alone the honour is due.
To Him, who is the source, the foundation, and the goal of all things.
But it is customary among Christians to give thanks for the gifts of God, and most of all; for that gift which He bestows upon us in the form of the talented ones, and of the service which they render from man to man and to the whole of mankind.
‘Ye shall know that a prophet has been among you’, God, our Lord, told Israel whenever the people had heedlessly passed by men who, in the strength of their spirit, saw to the roots of the prevailing situation and had something to contribute towards its cure.
But we, who as yet have gained hardly any distance from the spiritual giant who lived amongst us, wish to speak more cautiously and modestly.
‘You shall recognize that a man who knew has been among you, a man endowed with true gnosis, a “‘sophos”.
Those initiated into the life-work of C G Jung have a number of examples before their eyes which show how he approached the respective situations of his day, diagnostically and therapeutically.
Now it has been written: ‘”And if I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all gnosis; …. and have not love, I am nothing …… Love never fails.”
Carl Gustav Jung possessed something of both: in his researches he penetrated the to the roots of created things, he crossed the threshold to the mysteries of the archetypes; and at the same time he healed.
He was and remained a therapist of individuals, and even more so - of all mankind.
Jung explored creation respectfully, because he loved it with the sober, inexorable love which is characteristic of the physician.
The departed has joined the prophets because - in the original sense of the word - he unveiled what was hidden, yet worthy of revelation.
Surely, his work represents one of the most powerful ‘earthquake centres’ of recent times in reaching a new understanding of man, and in the form of a new image of humanity.
According to the Pentecostal sermon of Peter, it belongs to the continuing rule of the Holy Spirit that such earthquake centres and volcanoes are activated again and again in order to break up the smooth surface of civilized, established mankind.
Peter stated Joel’s prophesy:
“I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. And on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out in those days of my Spirt, and they will prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above, and signs on the earth below.”
In the 20th century, a topical interpretation of such a prophesy must inevitably include a phenomenon like Jung: for a long time no-one like Jung had appeared, advocating in the name of the spirit, the deeply moving experiential powers of the soul - without betraying it to out lower natures.
At long last, experiences of the psyche, from visions and dreams to the perception of wonders in heaven and signs in the earth, have once again become legitimate and need no longer - not even in the church - go bashfully into hiding.
The departed found clues for their decipherment.
To us, and to Christians in particular - which is by no means self-evident - Jung has restored the courage to own a soul, a soul with its unfathomable abysms, its depths and its heights, which is what the Biblical expression “image of God” means.
Once before, a prophet in the full sense of the word was also called back to the eternal world, and that in the appropriate manner: on the fiery chariot of the spirit.
This was Elijah.
Elijah had founded a school, and his closest disciple was allowed to witness his departure in the blaze of the spiritual fire.
When he saw his master carried upwards he called after him: “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen ..….”
He realized that a great power had sped away with Elijah.
He suffered bereavement because this giant was no longer with him.
Now a patriarch of the science of mind has left us, a father and champion of the psyche and of its right to exist, a defender and guardian of true inwardness; one of the great wise men who knew how to decipher the mirror-writing of the soul, who listened to the primitive language of living creatures; who built a bulwark around the soul, and with vigorous steeds struck out victoriously against the siege and starvation which it had endured far too long from the rationalists’ mighty and seemingly invincible armour: - a champion of man’s healing.
And this gigantic work could not be, nor wanted to be, more than in part.
Precisely for this reason it bears the seal and blessing of all genuine spiritual work, submitting reverently to the fragmentary nature that is imposed by God, even on our highest creative effort.
“Now we see through a glass, darkly; then, we shall see face to face. Now we know in part - but that which is perfect shall come.”
The fortunes, too, of the departed show traits often found among prophets.
“‘Nullus propheta in sua patria” - a prophet is honoured - except in his own hometown and country.
Even this inveterate rule Jung could hardly escape.
It seems as though the distance of foreign countries, nay of continents, was needed in order to gain a true measure of the spiritual phenomenon: Jung.
But a prophet, too, somewhere needs a chair, a table and a lamp to work in order to devote himself undisturbed to his work, a place where he can rest his head.
On the shores of Lake of Zurich, close to its waters, its winds, and its secret wilderness, he found a congenial home.
By nature, prophets are wanderers.
With them, stabilitas loci is rather an exception.
Kusnacht is proud to know C G Jung as one of its citizens and honorary citizens, indeed more than proud: it is grateful; for it was he who chose Kusnacht; Kusnacht did not choose him.
But let us follow the simile of the prophet to its conclusion!
A prophet is never to be measured by the exact, orthodox rule.
Not infrequently prophets had one foot in heresy.
The borderline between prophets and heretics is a fluctuating one.
Occasionally the prophet will confront the scribes with the question whether, while pestering prophets with their trivial criticisms, they are not like flies who try to swallow whole camels.
A prophet usually sounds the alarm precisely at that moment when the learned, after great pains, have at long last come to believe that once again the church is secure within its bounds.
A prophetic magus may even be entitled to start a small revolt against scriptural exigesis, apparently even against the sacrosanct Book itself; a small revolt in the name of the soul that is unable to cope with the riddles of existence; a small revolt against Biblical traditionalism - in the name of that other Bible which Jung knew how to read as no-one had done for a long time.
That other Bible - it is the Bible of creatures and of their secret handwriting; it is the picture language of the soul, of poetry and art; it is the glossary too, of the diseased soul; the secret code of the cosmos connected with all these by ultimate mystery, the mirror-writing of sun, moon and stars.
Magi contra scribes - it is not for the first time that this constellation of opposites has occurred in the history of the human mind.
It has the precedent in the story of Christ at that most prominent moment when the Magi from the East came to Jerusalem to announce a radical change in man’s history, beginning with a sublime birth among the Jewish people.
The scribes, it is true, smiled wearily at that naivety.
But Jung took his departure from the same book as those Magi, the book which the very scribes, to the great detriment of religious life, nowadays hold in least esteem.
Jung believed that from the point of view of that book, at the threshold between Pisces and Aquarius, he had something to say on the present situation.
It belongs to the style of the prophet who has been persistently ignored, to slam the door, for once, somewhat harshly.
The calendar of prophets and magi differs from that of other people.
They are not fully synchronized with the present.
But a time will come which will vindicate the departed in an altogether different way.
Both books, the holy scripture and the likewise-sealed book of psyche and cosmos must be explored with the same loving respect: for the characters of both originate from the same hand.
But even then it will still be a reading in the mirror, the deciphering of a writing which we are only allowed to see from below, and hence inverted; for the veil of a magnificent divine code covers all things.
It is love which has placed the barrier, this *cordon sanitaire between the ailing creature and the unveiled majesty.
It is love which can break down the barrier and remove the veil from our eyes, when our essence has become purified in the purgatories of life and in the baptismal waters of chastisement and experience, restored to health by the bread of life.
Then we shall fully know.
All things will be become transparent for the wisdom and the love of God.
Thus we shall behold him?
No, God will behold us, with the eye of infinite love, with the creative eye which projects into the thing seen what it has in itself.
The vision of God will become our vision.
Then, at last, we shall fluently understand the handwriting of all creation, and all the things we read will be an ecstasy of thanksgiving.
‘But then ……’ Spiritual men always look to the future.
They are not extinguished.
They only change their position.
And they are transformed.
God is not a God of the dead.
For Him all are alive.
“All souls are Mine’, even beyond that threshold which we call death. They continue to exist, even post mortem, not only in the sense of an animistic resonance but in their actuality, though on a new plane of being. And according to the holy scripture, in particular ’the teachers who have guided many into the truth shall shine like the stars in heaven”.
And though, as we have read, charity never fails, they still make us consider that charity involves subjects and objects: man shall love God without end, and be loved by Him.
Under the aspect of God’s creative love, man shall be released from all constrictions and misrepresentations of his vision, freed from the distortions of perspective - the departed, too, was not free from them on this earth.
And this will be a rebirth, a gradual, painfully joyous release, an ascent from one illumination to the next.
Then only may we speak of that ultimate manhood compared with which, according to Paul, even our highest maturity in this world is but the groping of a child.
Even after death we shall probably not cease to learn and to grow.
According to the Bible, to the baptismal doctrine of the church - and according to C G Jung’s doctrine of archetypes - all renewal and every birth are essentially connected with the element, water.
“Unless one is born of water and spirit, they cannot behold the kingdom of God”.
This time, too, at the passing of a human being from this world to the future world, water and spirit shall therefore have the last word, as they also had the first word at the first creation of the world.
I will let a little story speak for me.
This story is to be ascribed to a certain spiritual ancestor of our deceased, to the author of the Cabbala Denudata, the cabbalistic scholar Christian Knorr von Rosenroth (1636- 1689), who is also the author of that wonderful song Morgenglanz der Ewigkeit (Morning Radiance of Eternity), with whom Jung, too, was engaged in a deep, learned dialogue.
According to reliable information, Knorr von Rosenroth was seen by his daughter several times after his death.
Once he appeared to her in the form of a little boy.
His head was bandaged as though he had had a serious injury but was now approaching happy recovery.
All the time he was singing an ancient hymn about the passage of Israel through the Red Sea with the refrain: ‘Come on and leap! It won’t be all that deep - The great Red Sea!
As he thus appeared to his daughter, she took courage and asked him why his head was bandaged.
He told her that he had had to cross the deep chasm of the great waters on a very dangerous, narrow bridge.
Although when a small child he had got safely across, the storm had lashed and injured his head - this head heavily laden with learning.
The great man to whom we now bid farewell, on his journey of discovery through the ocean of human nature, with its startling results, pulled on his oars so powerfully that many a rationalist head got hurt, and many a sacrosanct conception was turned upside down.
But now he must himself pass through the last great waters, not only as an explorer and discoverer, but also as one who is being explored and discovered.
May he, on this passage through the great water, face the purifying storms of the judgment as joyously and vigorously as his kindred in spirit who, according to the vision just mentioned, had changed from scholar to child and called out to himself: ‘Come on and leap……!’
It may well be that in the great scrutiny when things are put right by divine correction, at once painful and cheerful, this or that detail is removed, because the temporary has to give way to the permanent; the fragmentary to the consummate.
Still, this last excursion will be the most rewarding one, for: “Primus homo de terra terrenus – secundas homo de caelo caelestis”; “The first man is of the earth and is earthly, the second man is of heaven.”
This had been the hope of the departed for his life companion.
May it be granted to him!
Image: The Swiss Reformed Church where Dr. Jung's Funeral took place.