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any need for this outer imprisonment. One now has an inner solidity against the impact of the outer world, so one can return to life in a seemingly unreflected way. The alchemists make very strange references to the fourth or yellow stage, calling it multiplicatio and comparing it to the grain of corn which multiplies by thousands and thousands. With the philosopher’s stone one can turn any ignoble metal into gold. The lapis has a transforming emanation which even goes into the cosmos. In symbolic form this would mean: with the realization of the Self, one is in complete harmony with the whole world, in a synchronistic correspondence with the inner and the outer universe. This is a stage which most people can reach only for a few moments and which the Chinese describe as being one with the Tao. This reminds me of the famous Zen Buddhist series of “Ten Oxherding Pictures,”15 in which the Chinese painter represented the inner course of development in symbolic form. First comes the releasing, then the catching, and then the taming of the ox. This would correspond to the nigredo and belongs to the “animal” stage of self-education and its problems. Then comes the picture of the full moon and the adept praying to it. He has forgotten the ox and also the whip with which he should tame it, the whole animal problem has disappeared. The next picture is the round disc of the moon, the stage of enlightenment without polarity which is no longer an ego experience. This enlightenment is “Buddha.” Nothing can be added anymore. And then a branch of a cherry tree in flower appears. One does not quite understand what it portends, only that it probably has to do with a return to life. The last picture shows an old man with a fat, hanging belly, walking along, smiling. His servant boy is with him carrying a begging bowl, and a few branches of cherry blossom are before him. He is going to the market, begging, and the text says: “He has forgotten the ox; he has forgotten his own big experience; he has even forgotten himself, but wherever he goes the cherry tree blossoms.” That would correspond to the yellow or gold stage of alchemy. There is then a union with the cosmos. It appears to be a stage of complete unconsciousness, but in reality it has to do with the opposite. In this connection I must refer you to the last two chapters of Jung’s Mysterium Coniunctionis on the unus mundus, where the same experience is described in alchemical and psychological terms. In our text the Goddess holds a sistrum and brass timbrel in her right hand, an instrument used in the Isis cult to chase away evil demons and ghosts.16 It

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

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