A new biography, Jung the Mystic: The Esoteric Dimensions of Carl Jung’s Life and Teachings, highlights Jung’s a life-long fascination with the otherworldly and transcendent aspects of human experience. It rightly places Jung in the context of other major mystical seekers and teachers, such as Rudolf Steiner, G. I. Gurdjieff, and Emanuel Swedenborg.
The book’s author is Gary Lachman, a widely respected writer on esoteric themes (as well as a founding member of the 80s rock band Blondie!). Lachman explores how, as a professional adult, Jung tended to hide and even deny this spiritual/esoteric/occult aspect of his life. Two dramatic personal experiences, thirty years apart, were to finally transform Jung into an openly mystical psychologist and an inspiration for today’s transpersonal movement. And between those two experiences came the creation of his great masterpiece, a hand-written book which for decades was virtually unknown outside his immediate family: The Red Book. In 2009, the Red Book was finally allowed to be published for the first time, an event which continues to generate a lot of buzz. Some see it as a work of literary genius, others see it as evidence of a psychotic breakdown. I’m with Lachman — I think it is a good idea to see The Red Book in the context of the current of mysticism and other-worldly weirdness running throughout Jung’s life. Lachman shows that even as a child, Jung was immersed in a world in which spirituality and the paranormal were the norm.