Jung, Evans-Wentz and various other gurus

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Abstract:

How did Jung become deeply concerned with Asian religions and particularly with the Tibetan Buddhism of a Welshman from Trenton, New Jersey? Could that man be considered one of Jung's gurus? This essay begins six years after Jung, at twenty, was admitted to the medical school of Basel University and became a member of the Zofingiaverein, a student society. The next year he gave the first of a series of lectures on the interpretation of Christ as the model of the ‘god-man’, like the Apostle Paul, Confucius, Zoroaster and the Buddha, who was ‘drummed into the Hindu boy’. (Jung's Zofingia Lectures were discovered only after his death, in 1961, and were published in English in 1983). The present essay discusses Jung's early Buddhist interest as displayed in The Psychology of the Unconscious (finally, in a revision, entitled Symbols of Transformation), in Psychological Types and later in his foreword of the Wilhelm translation of the I Ching. Jung was influenced by the gurus Richard Wilhelm and his son Hellmut, the scholar J. W. Hauer (with whom he later broke off relations because of Hauer's Nazi politics), the indologist Heinrich Zimmer, and the Zen master D. T. Suzuki. Walter Yeeling Wentz was born in Trenton in 1878 and brought up in his family's theosophist faith. The Wentzes moved to San Diego in 1900, and Walter added his mother's Celtic surname, Evans, to the German Wentz. He was educated at Stanford University and travelled in Europe, studying Celtic folklore, and widely in the Near East, Tibet, India, and Oxford – studying religions everywhere and editing Tibetan books. He lived his last decades in San Diego and conducted a correspondence with Jung, while living in a cheap hotel, or in an ashram.

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