We had to share some of the responsibility in the matter as through we, through our deeds of omission, where the accomplices we were fighting. Only by understanding how we were all a part, however opposite, of the same terrible contemporary medal could we defeat those dark forces with the true understanding of their nature and origin which was vital if they were to be over come in a manner to make us all free to embark on a way of peace that would not lead to a repetition of the vengeful past.
I had a feeling that even our capacity for thinking our own thoughts shrank into painfully humble proportions compared with another kind of reality that was, as it were, thinking through us. The typically French “As I think, so I am” seemed to me so much less true, and so static as to be petrified, after the Arabian axiom that as a man dreamt, so he was.
Yet even these reservations about human self-capacity for thinking were trivial against my conviction that we were utterly incapable of inventing the content of symbols, however much we helped to shape and express them, in the limited means available to us in our own little ration of reality. I was somehow convinced that issuing straight out of our deepest nature, like starlight out of the night, the material for symbols, whether we liked it or not was inflicted on us as a spur to a widening vision of ourselves. I had never seen so clearly as during this kind of war in which I was engaged how symbolism infected not only the human spirit and imagination, not only expressed something of itself in words, poetry, art, and religion, but when all these and other sources failed it, as our seemed to have done, how it compelled human beings to act it out in blind, ritualistic behaviour.
- Sir Laurens van der Post writing of his considerations during World War II in Jung and the Story of our Time (p 26)