This lecture was delivered at the C. G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles in 2003 as part of a series on mortificatio, the alchemical process of psychological or inner death inherent in such diminishing experiences as depression, illness, failure, aging, and dying.
“Death,” Jung wrote in 1945 not long after his heart attack, “is the hardest thing from the outside and as long as we are outside of it. But once inside you taste of such completeness and peace and fulfillment that you don’t want to return.”1 Jung was speaking here of his out-of-body, neardeath experience, whose gripping effect indeed made it difficult for him to return to the world of everyday life even though he resiliently recovered from his illness. He remarked how “life has fortunately become provisional. It has become a transitory prejudice, a working hypothesis for the time being, but not existence itself.”