Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Robert A. Johnson

American Jungian Analyst, Lecturer and Author

"A myth is a collective 'dream' of an entire people at a certain point in their history... But a myth not only lives in literature and imagination, it immediately finds its way into the behavior and attitudes of the culture - into the practical daily lives of the people."

"A man depends largely on woman for the light in the family as he is not well equipped at finding meaning for himself. Life is often dry and barren for him unless someone bestows meaning on life for him. With a few words, a woman can give meaning to a whole day?s struggle and a man will be so grateful. A man knows and wants this; he will edge up to it, initiate little occasions so that a woman can shed some light for him. When he comes home and recounts the events of the day, he is asking her to bestow meaning on them. This is the light-bearing quality of a woman."

"A man will treat a woman almost exactly the way he treats his own interior feminine. In fact, he hasn't the ability to see a woman, objectively speaking, until he has made some kind of peace with his interior woman."

"Dante was standing near the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge that crosses the Arno River in Florence. It was just before 1300? Dante saw Beatrice standing on the bridge. He was a young man, she even younger, and that vision contained the whole of eternity for him. Dante did not speak to her and saw her very little. And then Beatrice died, carried off by plague. Dante was stricken with the loss of his vision. She was the connection between his soul and Heaven itself, and from it the Divine Comedy was born. Six hundred fifty years later, during World War II, the Americans were chasing the German army up the Italian peninsula. The Germans were blowing up everything of aid to the progression of the American army, including the bridges across the Arno River. But no one wanted to blow up the Ponte Vecchio, because Beatrice had stood on it and Dante had written about her. So the German commandant made radio contact with the Americans and, in plain language, said they would leave the Ponte Vecchio intact if the Americans would promise not to use it. The promise was held. The bridge was not blown up, and not one American soldier or piece of equipment went across it. We?re such hard bitten people that we need hard bitten proof of things, and this is the most hard bitten fact I know to present to you. The bridge was spared, in a modern, ruthless war, because Beatrice had stood upon it."

"Each age needs its own language for understanding enduring truths?The ancient world didn?t have much of what we call reality; they lived, instead, by the slender threads. We have gained ego reality but have lost the mystical and religious functions that should guide our lives."

"First we must learn to think mythologically. Powerful things happen when we touch the thinking which myths, fairy tales, and our own dreams bring to us. The terms and settings of the old myths are strange; they seem archaic and distant to us, but if we listen to them carefully and take them seriously, we begin to hear and to understand."

"Generally, a mood will run its course in an intelligent man; if a woman doesn't puncture it prematurely, the man will puncture it himself. He will regain his senses somewhere along the way; he will say, Now wait, we had better think about this. That is, if his wife hasn't said five minutes before, Now, dear, don't you think we had better think about this? Because then he won't, of course. If a woman is needling, it is doubly hard for a man to come out of a mood. That intensifies it. A man is really in a kind of travail when he is in a mood. He needs help, not needling, but feminine help. He probably won't thank you for it, but inside he will be awfully grateful. When a woman has to deal with a man in a mood, she generally does the wrong thing. She generally gets her animus out, that nasty thing, and says, Now, look, this is utter nonsense, stop it. We don't need any more fishline leader. That is just throwing gasoline on the fire. There will be an anima-animus exchange, and all will be lost. The two are in the right hand and in the left hand of the goddess Maya, and you might as well give up for the afternoon. There is, however, a point of genius that a woman can bring forth if she is capable of it and willing to do it. If she will become more feminine than the mood attacking the man , she can dispel it for him. But this is a very, very difficult thing for a woman to do. Her automatic response is to let out the sword of the animus and start hacking away. But if a woman can be patient with a man and not critical, but represent for him a true feminine quality, then, as soon as his sanity is sufficiently back for him to comprehend such subtleties, he will likely come out of his mood. A wife can help a great deal if she will function from her feminine side in this way. She has to have a mature femininity to do this, a femininity that is strong enough to stand in the face of this spurious femininity the man is producing."

"History has always been a series of pendulum swings, but the individual doesn't have to get caught in that."

"History seems to be so clumsy."

"I had a patient once who dreamed she kept her husband in the deep freeze except for mating. Lots of men feel that way."

"If she has a good, strong, reliable father image, which is hard to find these days, that will be her image of men, probably for the rest of her life. She'll look for a husband who embodies those qualities."

"It's not too difficult to get the skeletons out of the closet with people, but to get the gold out is a different matter. That is therapy. Psychology is the Art of finding the gold of the spirit."

"Most men get their deepest conviction of self-worth from a woman, wife, mother, or if they are highly conscious, from their own anima. The woman sees and shows the man his value by lighting the lamp."

"Nothing will see us through the age we're entering but high consciousness, and that comes hard. We don't have a good, modern myth yet, and we need one."

"The dedication of the law is this: If a man give up the things that have the wrong level, this level will be returned to him."

"The difference in a teacher and a mentor is that a mentor is interested in our soul."

"It is almost always the case that whatever has wounded you will also be instrumental in your healing."

"The goal of inner work is to help clients unblock their bottlenecks and learn how to live in partnership with the unconscious rather than at its mercy."

"Though no one notices at the time, in-loveness obliterates the humanity of the beloved. One does a curious kind of insult to another by falling in love with him, for we are really looking at our own projection of God, not at the other person. If two people are in love, they tread on star dust for a time and live happily ever after?that is so long as this experience of divinity has obliterated time for them. Only when they come down to earth do they have to look at each other realistically and only then does the possibility of mature love exist. If one person is in love and the other not, the cooler one is likely to say, We would have something better between us if you would look at me rather than at your image of me."

"The only hope for healing is to offer a better form of ecstasy, to upgrade so the addict will give up the stupid one."

"When we find ourselves in a midlife depression, suddenly hate our spouse, our jobs, our lives ? we can be sure that the unlived life is seeking our attention. When we feel restless, bored, or empty despite an outer life filled with riches, the unlived life is asking for us to engage. To not do this work will leave us depleted and despondent, with a nagging sense of ennui or failure. As you may have already discovered, doing or acquiring more does not quell your unease or dissatisfaction. Neither will meditating on the light or attempting to rise above the sufferings of earthly existence. Only awareness of your shadow qualities can help you to find an appropriate place for your unredeemed darkness and thereby create a more satisfying experience. To not do this work is to remain trapped in the loneliness, anxiety, and dualistic limits of the ego instead of awakening to your higher calling."

"Very few women understand how great is the hunger in a man to be near femininity... but if a woman wishes to give a most precious gift to a man, if she would truly feed this masculine hunger (a hunger that he will seldom show but that is always there), she will be very, very feminine when her man is in a mood, so he can get his bearings and be a man again."

"To consent to paradox is to consent to suffering that which is greater than the ego. The religious experience lies exactly at that point of insolubility where we feel we can proceed no further. This is an invitation to that which is greater than one's self."