Dreamer's Refuge

A Student of Sense and Nonsense

You know the Truth when you hear it

You are an image of the unending world, all the last mysteries of becoming and passing away live in you. If you did not possess all this, how could you know?

Jung – The Red Book p.230

This passage by Jung touches on something I’ve been thinking about in relation to anamnesis, Parmenides, and the sophists. Namely that to know the “Truth” one must also first embody it. To hear it is to know it, and to know it is to hear it. Jung’s psychology is an extension of Plato’s (though it’s a much older idea) anamnesis: “The idea is that humans possess innate knowledge (perhaps acquired before birth) and that learning consists of rediscovering that knowledge from within.”

Bringing the unconscious content into the conscious, could be said, is an act of recollection.

In Judaism this concept is also taught though a bit differently:

“Before You Were Born retells the Jewish myth of Lailah, the angel [of Night in charge] of conception. According to this midrash, there is an angel, Lailah, who brings the soul and the seed together and then sees to it that the seed is planted in the womb. In doing so, Lailah serves as a midwife of souls. While the infant grows in the womb, Lailah places a lighted candle at the head of the unborn infant, so he or she can see from one end of the world to the other.

So too does the angel teach the unborn child the entire Torah, as well as the history of his or her soul. Then, when the time comes for the child to be born, the angel extinguishes the light in the womb and brings forth the child into the world. And the instant the child emerges, the angel lightly strikes its finger to the child’s lip, as if to say “Shh,” and this causes the child to forget everything learned in the womb. Still, the story implies, that knowledge is present, merely forgotten, much like the Jungian concept of the collective unconscious.

Howard Schwartz

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