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Carl Jung: There is little use in teaching wisdom.


To Chang Chung-yuan

Dear Sir, 26 June 1950

I have read your pamphlet with great interest and I can tell you that I fundamentally agree
with your views.

I see Taoism in the same light as you do.

I’m a great admirer of Ch’uang-tze’s philosophy.

I was again immersed in the study of his writings when your letter arrived in the midst of it.

You are aware, of course, that Taoism formulates psychological principles which are of a very universal nature.

As a matter of fact, they are so all-embracing that they are, as far as they go, applicable to any part of humanity.

But on the other hand just because Taoist views are so universal, they need a re-translation and specification when it comes to the practical application of their principles.

Of course it is undeniable that general principles are of the highest importance, but it is equally important to know in every detail the way that leads to real understanding.

The danger for the Western mind consists in the mere application of words instead of facts.

What the Western mind needs is the actual experience of the facts that cannot be substituted by words.

Thus I’m chiefly concerned with the ways and methods by which one can make the Western mind aware of the psychological facts underlying the concept of Tao, if the latter can be called a concept at all.

The way you put it is in danger of remaining a mere idealism or an ideology to the Western mind.

If one could arrive at the truth by learning the words of wisdom, then the world would have been saved already in the remote times of Lao-tze.

The trouble is, as Ch’uang-tze rightly says, that the old masters failed to enlighten the world, since there weren’t minds enough that could be enlightened.

There is little use in Teaching Wisdom.

At all events wisdom cannot be taught by words.

It is only possible by personal contact and by immediate experience.

The great and almost insurmountable difficulty consists in the question of the ways and means to induce people to make the indispensable psychological experiences that open their eyes to the underlying truth.

The truth is one and the same everywhere and I must say that Taoism is one of the most perfect
formulations of it I ever became acquainted with.
Sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 559-560

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Great Sites to visit:

  1. Jenna Lilla’s Path of the Soul
  2. Steve Jung-Hearted Parker’s Jung Currents

  3. Frith Luton’s Jungian Dream Analysis and Psychotherapy:

  4. Lance S. Owens The Gnosis Archives

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Carl Jung: There is little use in teaching wisdom.


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