At the beginning of 1944 I broke my foot, and this misadventure was followed by a heart attack. In a state of unconsciousness I experienced deliriums and visions which must have begun when i hung on the edge of death. The images were so tremendous that I myself concluded that i was close to death. My nurse afterwards told me, "It was as if you were surrounded by a bright glow." That was a phenomemna she had sometimes observed in the dying she added. I had reached the outermost limit, and do not know whether I was in a dream or an ecstacy. At any rate, extremely strange things begun to happen to me.
It seemed to me that I was high up in space. Far below I saw the globe of the earth, bathed in a gloriously blue light. I saw the deep blue sea and the continents. Far below my feet lay Ceylon, and in the distance ahead of me the subcontinent of India. My field of vision did not include the whole earth, but its global shape was plainly distinguishable and its outlines shone with a silvery gleam through that wonderful blue light. In many places the globe seemed coloured, or spotted dark green like oxydised silver. Far away to the left lay a broad expanse - the redish-yellow desert of Arabia; it was as though the silver of the earth had there assumed a reddish-gold hue. Then came the red sea, and far, far back - as if in the upper left of the map - I could just make out a bit of the Mediterranean. My gaze was directed chiefly towards that. Everything else appeared indistinct. I could also see the snow-covered Himalayas, but in that direction it was foggy or cloudy. I did not look to the right at all. I knew that I was on the point of departing from the earth.
Later I discovered how high in space one would have to be to have so extensive a view - approximately a thousand miles! The sight of the earth from this height was the most glorious thing I had ever seen.
After contemplating it for a while, I turned round. I had been standing with my back to the Indian Ocean, as it were, and my face to the north. Then it seemed to me that I made a turn to the south. Something new entered my field of vision. A short distance away I saw in space a tremendous dark block of stone, like a meteorite. It was floating in space, and I myself was floating in space.
I had seen similar stones on the coast of the Gulf of Bengal. They were blocks of tawny granite, and some of them had been hollowed out into temples. My stone was one such gigantic block. An entrance led into a small antechamber. To the right of the entrance, a black Hindu sat silently meditating in a lotus posture upon a stone bench. We wore a white gown, and I knew that he expected me. Two steps led up to this antechamber, and inside, on the left, was the gate to the temple. Innumerable tiny niches, each with a saucer-like concavity filled with coconut oil and small burning lamps, surrounded the door with a wreath of bright flames. I had once actually seen this when I visited the Temple of the Holy Tooth at Kandy in Ceylon; the gate had been framed by several rows of burning oil lamps of this sort.
As I approached the steps leading up to the entrance into the rock, a strange thing happened: I had the feeling that everthing was being sloughed away; everything I aimed at or wished for or thought, the whole phantasmagoria of earthly existence, fell away or was being stripped from me - an extremely painful process. Nevertheless, something remained; it was as if I now carried along with me everything that had happened around me. I might also say: it was with me, and I was it. I consisted of all that, so to speak. I consisted of my own history, and I felt with great certainty: this is what I am. "I am this bundle of what has been, and what has been accomplished."
This experience gave me a feeling of extreme poverty, but at the same time of great fullness. There was no longer anything I wanted or desired. I existed in an objective form; I was what I had been and lived. At first the sense of annihilation predominated, of having been stripped or pillaged; but suddenly that became of no consequence. Everything seemed to be past; what remained was a fait accompli, without any reference back to what had been. There was no longer any regret that something had dropped away or been taken away. On the contary: I had everything that I was, and that was everything.
Something else engaged my attention: as I approached the temple I had the certainty that I was about to enter an illuminated room and would meet there all those people to whom I belong in reality. There I would at last understand - this too was a certainty - what historical nexus I or my life fitted into. I would know what had been before me, why I had come into being, and where my life was flowing. My life as I lived it had often seemed to me like a story that has no beginning and no end. I had the feeling that I was a historical fragment, an excerpt for which the preceding and succeeding text was missing. My life seemed to have been snipped out of a long chain of events, and many questions had remained unanswered. Why had it taken this course? Why had I brought these particular assumptions with me?
What had I made of them? What will follow? I felt sure that I would recieve an answer to all these questions as soon as I entered the rock temple. There I would learn why everything had been thus and not otherwise. There I would meet the people who knew the answer to my question about what had been before and what would come after.
While I was thinking over these matters, something happened that caught my attention. From below, from the direction of Europe, an image floated up. It was my doctor, Dr. H - or, rather, his likeness - framed by a golden chain or a golden laurel wreath. I knew at once: "Aha, this is my doctor, of course, the one who has been treating me. But now he is coming in his primal form, as a basileus of Kos. In life he was an avatar of this basileus, the temporal embodiment of the primal form, which has existed from the beginning. Now he is appearing in that primal form."
Presumably I too was in my primal form, though this was something that I did not observe but simply took for granted. As he stood before me, a mute exchange of thought took place between us. Dr. H. had been delegated by the earth to diliver a message to me, to tell me that there was a protest against my going away. I had no right to leave the earth and must return. The moment I heard that, the vision ceased.
I was profoundly disappointed, for now it all seemed to have been for nothing. The painful process of defoliation had been in vain, and i was not to be allowed to enter the temple, to join the people in whose company I belonged.
Disappointed, I thought, "Now I must return to the `box system' again." For it seemed to me as if behind the horizen of the cosmos a three-dimensional world had been artificially built up, in which each person sat by himself in a little box. And now I should have to convince myself all over again that this was important! Life and the whole world struck me as a prison, and it bothered me beyond measure that I should again be finding all that quite in order. I had been glad to shed it all, and now it had come about that I - along with everyone else - would
again be hung up in a box by a thread.
Exract from "Memories, Dreams and Refections" - Carl Jung