The spirit and the good side of fundamentalism

September 17, 2010

Have you ever had a friend whose fundamental goodness shone through to such an extent that you thought of him as a saint? I had such a friend, Robert Clarke, a modest Englishman who had been brought to a state of quiet wisdom by his process of individuation  — led not only by his study of Jung but by his analysis of no fewer than 30,000 of his own dreams! We only met twice, but I always thought of him with affection, and often referred to him in my mind, without sarcasm or irony, as St. Robert.

When I learned that he was dying, I volunteered to publish three manuscripts of his, which I have just done. (Descriptions of his  three books may be found on my other website, The other day I came across one of his old emails to me, which I think give a sense of the quiet wisdom and goodness of the man, and a hint as to his deep learning.

When I showed the email to a friend, he replied, rightly, “What a wonderful, wonderful man.” As you shall see:

Robert Clarke letter 6-18-06

Dear Frank

Many years ago, before I discovered Jung, I studied the works of Reich, Maslow, Rank, and several other psychologists. These were positive figures to a degree, offering some kind of hope, but still limited to the type of thinking that arose with scientific-rationalism. Mind you, Rank, a Jew, had suffered in the Nazi concentration camps and had seen at first hand that those who were able to survive the best were the ones who had deep spiritual beliefs. Those who believed only in survival of the fittest, and therefore in their own survival, were the first to crack up mentally.

When I discovered Jung I realised he was light years in front of other psychologists. Where they studied behaviour patterns, psychic energy, right brain thinking / left brain thinking etc., Jung opened the door to direct experience of spirit/soul reality itself. He discovered that spirit and worldly realities are different and that in order for them to communicate, spirit reality produces symbols that we may hopefully come to understand. (There are lower forms of communication, even person to person, as you know yourself, but communication at deeper and higher levels is by way of symbols.) Had any of the above figures really understood Jung, they would have become Jungians.

The value of Jung and his discoveries was yet again demonstrated to me the other day when I was talking to the woman who runs a  ceramics display building here. We somehow got to dreams and she told me of one she had in which she looked out of her bedroom window at night, There she saw the moon shining powerfully above, while below was a lake (or the sea). In the water was a great fish, covering the whole lake, while around it were seven fish standing upright. Then out of the great fish  came seven small dragons or crocodiles, which proceeded to march up to the woman’s bedroom. Also there was a figure that was like a sea-horse, or dragon-horse.

The woman used to be a teacher in a Catholic school and so her mind had been conditioned to the male God, and indeed, the Holy Trinity. All perfectly true and valid, but what the other reality was now doing was making up the balance through her dream, the Great Mother to counter-match the Great Father, and in her most archaic form. Very early in Egypt and Mesopotamia the great Mother-Fish produced her seven crocodile sons, the leader of which was the dragon-horse. You can read all about it in Massey’s works, and indeed, in Jung’s.. It was amazing and yet not surprising to me to hear this woman, who knows nothing whatsoever of mythology, to describe exactly one of the earliest archaic mythic structures of mankind that had come through to make up, as I say, the balance to the male God of her conscious thinking.

This is what Jung is all about, eternal spirit/soul reality coming through to us directly in symbolism, and it would have been equally valid had the woman seen Christ and angels. It doesn’t matter here whether we think more with the right side of the brain or with the left, or what brain patterns and energies are involved etc. but the other reality that we access. It doesn’t matter too much how a TV set works, as long as it does, it is the life, truth, and quality of the broadcast signals it picks up that ultimately. counts.

Again before I discovered Jung, I was very left-wing in my thinking, almost a communist perhaps. But when I reached a certain level in my individuation process I had a dream in which our Prime minister of the time, extreme right-winger Margaret Thatcher, married extreme left-wing miner’s leader Arthur Scargill. This took place in holiness and angels were singing above. But what it meant was that I had unified opposing political/materialistic forces at a higher religious/spiritual level – the higher position that contains all the lower positions that are in conflict with each other. From that time I never thought in a political way again, or from a scientific or any other way. The true religious/spiritual position is like a canopy overlooking and containing all of the lesser ones, a wholeness containing the lesser fragments. I remember reading once – it was probably Jung who said it – that it was after the French Revolution, when God and religion were pulled down from their throne, that France really split into left and right politically. Modern Man followed, falling into all of the fragmentary isms when he lost the higher spiritual state generally. Cold science became ultimate truth, rather than God’s truth. From this, among many other curses of modern life, have arisen political correctness and intellectualism, replacing real intelligence, true wisdom, and good old common sense.

On Fridays I go to the market at our town centre. Here I meet friends and we go for coffee and biscuits at a little 19th century Reformist church. We go there because of the peace and quiet, not to mentioned the fact that the cost is about one sixth of any cafe or restaurant. The plaster is falling off in places in the church because there is no money, but again, we like the tranquil atmosphere.. A lovely old couple, very pleasant and kindly, run the refreshments, and they are embers of the church, of which there are only about ten members all told.

This lovely old couple are very simple in their religious beliefs. They never heard of Jung and the archetypes, but I have the feeling God values their simple worship above my own deeper understanding, and indeed, above modern scholarship in general. In their way, taking religion literally, this old couple are nearer the ultimate truth than many scholars, because they have accepted what was originally the symbolism of the spirit, whereas scholarship generally, relying on understanding but usually failing to understand, rejects it. This is the side of fundamentalism that is never mentioned. Kindly people loving and following their God quietly in their own simple way, harming no one, but bringing grace and even a kind of beauty to the world.

Best wishes



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