Jung Speaks With Mountain Lake

In Jung’s autobiography, Memories, Dreams and Reflections, he describes his encounter with the Native American chief, Mountain Lake, of the Taos pueblos in New Mexico in 1932:

“I was able to talk with him as I have rarely been able to talk with a European,” Jung recalls. “To be sure, he was caught up in his world just as much as a European is in his, but what a world it was! In talk with a European, one is constantly running up on the sand bars of things long known but never understood; with this Indian, the vessel floated freely on deep alien seas. At the same time, one never knows which is more enjoyable: catching sight of new shores, or discovering new approaches to age old knowledge that has been almost forgotten” (Vintage, p. 247).

Chief Ochwiay Biano, which means Mountain Lake, must have sensed a kindred spirit in the Swiss doctor, because he was devastatingly candid with him. Chief Mountain Lake: “See how cruel the whites look, their lips are thin, their noses sharp, their faces furrowed and distorted by folds. Their eyes have a staring expression; they are always seeking something. What are they seeking? The whites always want something. They are always uneasy and restless. We do not know what they want. We do not understand them. We think that they are all mad.”

When Jung asks why he thinks they are all mad, Mountain Lake replies, “They say they think with their heads.” “Why of course,” says Jung. “What do you think with?” “We think here,” says Chief Mountain Lake, indicating his heart.

After this exchange, Jung fell into a deep meditation. The Pueblo chief had struck a vulnerable spot. Jung saw image upon image of cruelties wreaked by his forebears: the Roman eagle on the North Sea and the White Nile, “the keenly incised features of Julius Caesar, Scipio Africanus, and Pompey…Charlemagne’s most glorious forced conversions of the heathen…the pillaging, murdering bands of the Crusading armies…the peoples of the Pacific islands decimated by firewater, syphilis and scarlet fever carried in the clothes the missionaries forced on them.”

Source: Memories, Dreams and Reflections by CG Jung

3 comments On Jung Speaks With Mountain Lake

  • How sad that we all but obliterated the Native American population. What proud and spiritual people they were/are. This is one of the biggest mistakes in American History in my belief. But hey, we’ve tried to make good, and you too can see that in Oklahoma, amongst other places, where your local Bingo parlor owned by Native Americans is not taxed on the same basis by the federal government. *Wow, how generous we are.* *SARCASM*

  • Thanks for the post.

    Perhaps you’ve read Black Elk Speaks?

    It’s really wonderful.

    When Jung read it in the 30s he encouraged its German translation. It was published as Ich Rufe Mein Volk “I Call My People” in 1953.

  • I haven’t read it but I’ll add it to my list. I remember Joseph Campbell referencing it in the Bill Moyers series:

    “I saw myself on the central mountain of the world, the highest place, and I had a vision because I was seeing in the sacred manner of the world. But the central mountain is everywhere.” – Black Elk

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