Like every other being, I am a splinter of the infinite deity

student questions reality

I do not know what I really am like

An autobiography is so difficult to write because we possess no standards, no objective foundation, from which to judge ourselves. There are really no proper bases for comparison. I know that in many things I am not like others, but I do not know what I really am like. Man cannot compare himself with any other creature; he is not a monkey, not a cow, not a tree. I am a man. But what is it to be that? Like every other being, I am a splinter of the infinite deity, but I cannot contrast myself with any animal, any plant or any stone. Only a mythical being has a range greater than man’s. How then can a man form any definite opinions about himself?

by Carl Jung (26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961)
from Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1963)
image – brunosan

To Know, or Not to Know – That is the Question

Who else finds irony in Jung’s going straight from proclaiming himself to be “a splinter of the infinite deity” to inferring that God is only a “mythical being…”?

Scientists! Always trying to pin down an absolute, always fascinated with the mutable.

Show them the amazing bright blue of a butterfly wing, and they’ll go gleefully nuts figuring out how bluer than blue works. I suppose it’s inevitable. Show me a happy scientist and I’ll show you someone who is in love with their own curiosity.

Curiosity itself has two sides – the desire to know, and appreciation for the as-yet unknowable. It’s all good.

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3 Responses to “Like every other being, I am a splinter of the infinite deity”

  1. clarissa mcfairy Says:

    I hear that he is saying that “only a mythical being has a range greater than man’s. But is he really inferring that God is a mythical being? I read that as meaning that man is too vast in contrasts to compare himself with his fellow men. And that only a mythical being, being imaginery, has more contrasts than man. Am curious to know what others think??

    Love your “bright blue of a butterfly” comment. Maybe some scientists could come in on this one.

  2. E. A. Able Says:

    Clarissa – are you a science nerd? This came my way a few days ago –> – It’s a tour of Nano scale discoveries narrated by Stephen Fry. Blue butterfly wings are in there. It’s pretty cool!

    About Jung, I don’t know for sure. He was not as disillusioned with religion as some. He was open. I wouldn’t be surprised if horror over Hitler’s cult-like magnetism put a damper on trusting religion-related dogma, for people who were alive then. And people who could separate the dogma from faith of the soul would find an important peace. Just guessing. 🙂

    Wikiquote says Jung had “Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit” engraved over his door. Apparently, it’s a Spartan proverb that translates to something like “Called or uncalled, God is present.” There’s no citation, so I can’t follow that trail, but I think it’s a very nice little phrase!

  3. clarissa mcfairy Says:

    I agree, it is a STUNNING phrase. And reminds me so much of what musician Gabriel Fauré said when asked how he could write such sacred music without being religious. He said” “I am not a believer, but I did not write this music in a spirit of disbelief.” Yep, I go along with that “called or uncalled, God is present”. Ofcourse it so much more evocative, oops, in Latin. Actually, I like the fact that he engraved it on his door, good place, considering that it is from there that once summons the house dweller.

    To flit up to your intro, no, I am not a science nerd, but there is a common belief, that I would love a scientist to challenge, that the eye of the beholder would differ between, say, a scientist and a poet, who might spend his or her time musing over a butterfly’s bewitching hues. I am sure there must be a scientist among your followers, with poetic inclinations or a poet with a scientific bent. For nothing is ever cast in stone.

    I love discussing these concepts. And it is nice to be one of your followers. Called or uncalled, God is certainly present, for it is a goodly thing that you do, and one that says, as God is purported to have done, “Let there be light”. Maybe God was referring to enlightenment. Ha ha, I hope I am not opening a can of religious worms here, or, heaven forbid, apples.