Just the other day, an old psychiatrist friend I’d met many years ago at one of the Monroe Institute’s professional meetings called me up out of the blue. Well, not exactly. He called to let me know that he’s home convalescing from a serious heart attack, probably brought on by his second bout of covid.
We caught up with each other by trading various “war stories” about the aging process and the ailing physical body. Then, at one point, he asked me what I was writing these days.
I explained that I’m not working on any new books or academic articles. Mainly, I said, I have turned my attention to writing these blog posts, and that it has become a kind of spiritual discipline for me—part of my quest for greater self-knowledge and self-awareness. Since I’m not on any social media platforms, have no following, and haven’t even written a book in ten years, perhaps no one is actually reading these posts. Even likely.
But that doesn’t bother me at all. Something about writing like this feels useful. And liberating. Knowing that it could be read by others places a certain burden of quality and clarity on the work that might not hold for a journal entry. But really, I am doing it primarily for myself, and for the sake of the work. If I’m fortunate and do it well enough, perhaps something of value for others might come out of it somehow, somewhen. Or maybe not.
Then today, I happened to come across this wonderful quote from C.G. Jung:
“An old alchemist gave the following consolation to one of his disciples: ‘No matter how isolated you are and how lonely you feel, if you do your work truly and conscientiously, unknown friends will come and seek you.’”
—C.G. Jung, Letters, Vol II, Page 595
I strongly suspect that the “unknown friends” are first and foremost figures from our own psyche—inner powers and guides. Jung also liked to quote the old Taoist saying: “The master potter leaves no trace.” No trace of what? Of their ego, of course! They do not even sign their work. To do something as well as one can, for its own sake rather than for social recognition or approval, is what produces the inner transformation. It is the gateway to the Unknown Friends.