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C.G. Jung on Gurdjieff and Ouspensky

The following extract is from a letter written by Jung to Fernando Cassani of Caracas, Venezuela on 13 July 1954. It is of interest not only because it lays out Jung's attitudes toward Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, but also touches on his own unique position as an "empiricist of experience" -- a position which often causes considerable consternation among casual readers of his work, taking it to mean that he is a "scientist" rather than a "mystic," which, of course, is incorrect; he was a "scientist of the mystical experience," or one who, having encountered God, chose to describe it in the language of science rather than mysticism.

"I am not a philosopher . . . but an empiricist who describes the progress of his [inner] experiences [with the higher Self]; thus, my work has no absolute beginning and no all-encompassing end. It is like the life of an individual, which suddenly becomes visible somewhere but rests on definite though invisible foundations, so has no proper beginning and no proper end, ceasing just as suddenly and leaving questions behind which should have been answered. You do not know my later (and perhaps more important works yet. I therefore enclose a list of them.

As for the writings of Ouspensky and Gurdjieff, I know enough to satisfy me that I have no time for them. I seek real knowledge and therefore avoid all unverifiable speculation. I have seen enough of that as a psychiatrist. You might as well recommend Mme. Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled or the compendious opus of Rudolph Steiner or Bo-Yin-Ra (why not Schneiderfranken [the latter's real name]? Anyway, I thank you for your good intentions. It is so difficult to establish facts that I detest anything that obscures them . . .

Yours sincerely, C. G. JUNG"
(From Collected Letters of C.G. Jung, Vol. 2, page 180)

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text content by Yakov Leib Ha-Kohain
page uploaded 5 October 1999, last modified 15 July 2004