Saturday, May 28, 2011



In primitive tribes we observe that
the old people are almost always the guardians
of the mysteries and the laws, and it is in these
that the cultural heritage of the tribe is expressed.
How does the matter stand with us ?
Where is the wisdom of our old people -
where are their precious secrets and their visions?
For the most part our old people try to compete
with the young.  In the United States it is almost
an ideal for the father to be the brother of his sons,
and for the mother if possible to be the younger
sister of her daughter.
I do not know how much of this confusion
comes as a reaction to an earlier exaggeration
of the dignity of age, and how much is to be
charged to false ideals.  These undoubtedly exist
and the goal of those who hold them lies behind,
and not in front.  Therefore they are always striving
to turn back.  We have to grant to these persons
that it is hard to see what other goal the second half
of life can offer than the well-known goal of the first.
Expansion of life, usefulness, efficiency, the cutting
of a figure in social life, the shrewd steering of
offspring into suitable marriages and good positions -
are not these purposes enough?
Unfortunately this is not enough meaning or purpose
for many persons who see in the approach of old age
a mere diminution of life, and who look upon their
earlier ideals only as something faded and worn out.
Of course, if those persons had filled up the beaker
of life earlier and emptied it to the lees,
they would feel quite differently about
 everything now; had they kept nothing back,
 all that wanted to catch fire would have been
 consumed, and the quiet of old age would be
very welcome to them. 
  But we must not forget that only
a very few people are artists in life;
that the art of life is the most distinguished
and rarest of all the arts.
Who ever succeeded in draining the whole cup
with grace?  So for many people all too much
unlived life remains over - sometimes potentialities
which they could never have lived with the
 best of wills; and so they approach the
 threshold of old age with unsatisfied claims
 which inevitably turn their glances backward.
It is particularly fatal for such people to
look backward.  For them a prospect and a goal
in the future are indispensable.  This is why
all great religions hold the promise of a life
beyond; it makes it possible for mortal man to
live the second half of life with as much perseverance
and aim as the first.  For the man of today the
enlargement of life and its culmination are plausible
goals; but the idea of life after death seems to him
questionable or beyond belief.  And yet life's cessation,
that is, death, can only be accepted as a goal when
existence is so wretched that we are glad for it to end,
or when we are convinced that the sun strives to
its setting - "to illuminate distant races" - with
the same perseverance it showed in rising to its
zenith.  But to believe has become today such a
difficult art, that people, and particularly the
educated part of humanity, can hardly find their
way there.
  They have become too accustomed to
the thought that, with regard to immortality and
such questions, there are many contradictory
opinions and no convincing proofs. 
Since "science" has become the catchword which
carries the weight of conviction in the contemporary
world, we ask for "scientific" proofs.
But educated people who can think know that
proof of this kind is out of the question.
We simply know nothing whatever about it.
Carl Jung
 Matt's 12th stripe version....

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