The Red Book: Jung’s Creative Experiment

Posted on Jun 13, 2013

Yesterday afternoon I stopped by the Boulder Book Store here in Boulder Colorado where I am today on my US book tour. I wanted to find my book on their shelves (in New Nonfiction on the main floor) and take some pictures.

Once I had done that I decided to look around at the other books they carry in Personal Development and Creativity. So I asked where they keep The Artists Way and followed a salesperson up the stairs to Psychology.

One of the books I came across in that section is a newly published book by Carl Jung, called The Red Book. On the shelf was a large, red paper sample with a note to speak to a sales person if you want to purchase the book. So I did.

Turns out The Red Book is an enormous, gorgeous 250-dollar book that documents Jung’s self experimentation from 1913 until 1930 to discover firsthand what he called “the unconscious” – his experience of his inner world and its expression in the outer world. It was, in Jung’s opinion, the most important work of his lifetime; and it remained unpublished until 2009.

The Red Book by C.G. Jung



“The years, of which I have spoken to you, when I pursued the inner images, were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me. That was the stuff and material for more than only one life. Everything later was merely the outer classification, the scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then.” –  C.G. Jung 1957



If you ever feel like giving me an extravagant gift and are at a loss for what to buy, this book is it.

"125" in The Red BookThe image you see here is the one that jumped off the page into my heart; and I suppose you can see why it would. I had never seen it before yesterday.

The reason I’m telling you about this now is because what Jung called his self-experiment is, in my experience, the work that we do in the Wheel of Creativity.

The world that we live in today, especially the world of creativity, is so outer (product) oriented that we lose touch with the vein of gold, as Julia Cameron calls it, that runs through us. We lose awareness of our connection with the Source of Creativity that nourishes us. And that’s really what life is about. It’s about connecting with Source within us and the outer world in which we live. Our purpose in being here is to make that connection and to express what can only come through us in the world around us.

The pain and suffering, the struggles that we have in life are not here to harass us; they are here to inspire us, to cause us to go deeper, to demand that we find something of value, to transform the circumstances through our unique perspective into something beauty and service in the world.

An Invitation: Try This at Home

I want to invite you this week to run your own self-experiment. Jung gave us this incredible example of personal transformation. But you can do it too. Your life is a running creative experiment – you there in your unique place in life. No one can share that place with you, and no one can tell you how to live it. You are connected with the Source of all Creativity as is the whole world. The world around you needs the beauty, needs the service, needs the inspiration that only you can give.

Don’t skip the inner work required before the outer work appears. The power of your work is in its depth.

Share the Journey

Please join me on my book tour to see what other kinds of things I discover out there to share with you. I’ve been a little bit out of touch these last few weeks, but I include you more frequently here and on Facebook.

I love you. I support you and what you’re doing. And I invite you to live creative.

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