Accepting the Darkness of Self and Others

Alan Watts on Carl Jung on Accepting the Darkness of Self and Others

“Our darkness is contributive in the same way that manure is essential to the rose.”

Some bits:

alanwatts_finalThis is the most important thing in Jung, that he was able to point out, that to the degree you condemn others and find evil in others, you are to that degree unconscious of the same thing in yourself, or at least of the potentiality of it. There can be Eichmanns and Hitlers and Himmlers just because there are people who are unconscious of their own dark sides, and they project that darkness outward into, say, Jews or communists or whatever the enemy may be, and say there is the darkness, it is not in me, and therefore because the darkness is not in me i am justified, in annihilating the enemy weather it be with atom bombs or gas chambers or what not. But to the degree that a person becomes conscious that the evil is as much in himself as in the other, to this same degree he is not likely to project it on to some scapegoat, and commit the most criminal acts of violence upon other people. Now this is to my mind the primary thing that Jung saw, that in order to admit and really accept and understand the evil in oneself, one had to be able to do it without being an enemy to it. As he put it, you had to accept your own dark side, and he had this preeminently in his own character.

I had a long talk with him back in 1958 and I was enormously impressed, with a man who was obviously very great but at the same time, which whom everybody could be completely at ease. There are so many great people, great in knowledge or great in what is called holiness with whom the ordinary individual feels rather embarrassed. He feels inclined to sit on the edge of his chair, and to feel immediately judged by this persons wisdom or sanctity. Jung managed to have wisdom and I think also sanctity in such a way that when other people came into it’s presence they didn’t feel judged, they felt enhanced, encouraged and invited to share in a common life. And there was a sort of twinkle in Jung’s eye that gave me the impression that he knew himself to be just as much a villain as everybody else. There’s a nice German word ‘hintergedanke’ which means a thought in the very far far back of your mind. Jung had a hintergedanke in the back of his mind which showed, it showed in the twinkle in his eyes, it showed that he knew and recognized what i have sometimes called ‘the element of irreducible rascality’ in himself. And he knew it so strongly and so clearly, and in a way so lovingly that he would not condemn the same thing in others, and therefore would not be lead into those thoughts feeling and acts of violence towards others, which are always characteristic of the people who project the devil in themselves upon the outside, upon somebody else, upon the scapegoat. ~ Alan Watts

More posts featuring Alan Watts work on Beyond Meds:

And some that feature Carl Jung:

Comments are closed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: