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Friday, February 13, 2009

No soul! No soul! – CREDO XLIV

Barbara Hannah, the earthy English biographer and devoted friend of Jung, tells a lovesome story about him and his trip to Burma. It sheds light on a gift that Jung had of always asking “Why?” or “How come?” and getting a new insight. It seems that they were traveling with a Burmese friend in a rickshaw. Suddenly their rickshaw collided with another one. Both drivers stopped and started jabbering furiously at each other but then changed their attitude and kept repeating a phrase to each other. In the end, they smiled and waved, and resumed riding the bicycles that drew the carts.

Jung was curious about the phrase they kept repeating. What were they saying? Their friend replied, “No soul! No soul!” and explained that in their culture when a mishap of any kind occurred a decision had to be made whether it was important enough to take into one’s soul or not. In this case, the drivers both decided it was not. Hence the phrase “No soul!” was repeated.

This small reference had repercussions in my own life and proves the value of passing on a good idea. In 1983, I co-led with Maggie Smith, a Chi-ops trip to India. Walter and I joined the group in New York and we all stopped off in London and flew directly to Bombay, arriving about 1:00 am. After a long, tedious trip through customs we emerged, a few at a time, into the hot, humid, dust-fetid air of India and climbed into a waiting un-air-conditioned bus. After half an hour passed, those in the bus were understandably starting to object and complain, for a last few of us were still missing. We were all sweating, thirsty, and dead tired.

I thought of Jung in Burma and stood up in the bus and told the story. Just as I finished the last two people climbed aboard, apologizing for the delay at customs. Thus our adventure began, and we traveled north through India, Kashmir, and Nepal. Needless to say, almost everywhere we went there were glitches of every kind, but invariably they were met with laughter and the phrase “No soul! No soul!”

It occurs to me that this tale could come in handy for us all as we are confronting challenges of shortages and occasions for impatience and short fuses! It seems to me there is magic in the sequence of that one small incident with Jung in Burma, and Barbara Hannah having the wisdom to include it in her book, which makes it possible for me to pass it along on the Internet and bring Jung and those two rickshaw drivers into our presence. It seems like transmitting one tiny spark that defies time and place!


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