Jung’s childhood dream

  • Kurt Forrer (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


One of the reasons why Jung might have chosen a god-less ground of existence for his credence, so it seems, is because he was the son of a minister of religion who had eight brothers of the same calling. Perhaps there was a bit of Oedipus drama in his rejection of his father’s conviction, together with an exaggerated protestant inclination towards iconoclast that even needed to abolish the concept of God itself.

But there is also another factor that seems to play a part in this negation of a Divinity. This seems to go back to a previous life in Ceylon or Sri Lanka as it is called now, where he might well have been a priest in the Order of Hinayana. If his 1944 OBE is anything to go by, this suggestion is not as far fetched, as it might seem.

It is the NDE flight over Ceylon, over the Temple of the Holy Tooth that leads me to surmise that Jung was inclined towards Buddhism, a faith that has done away with notions of a god. There is, of course, no immediate reason to think that he may have been a Buddhist priest in a past life like the one sitting at the entrance of the temple while flying over it, because that sort of connection could have arisen in his present life. But there is a further link with the East, one that has not come from a visit to the Orient in this life, but rather in a life before. This wonderful piece of evidence of a deep connection with India at least, if not also with Ceylon, comes from Jung’s earliest dream he could remember, when he was between three and four years old. It was a dream, as he put it, that “was to preoccupy me all my life”.

In this crucial dream he stepped down a shaft, which turned out to be an underground temple with a ritual phallus on a golden throne. Jung wondered where this image might have come from. It could not have originated in his young life since his home was steeped in icon free Christianity. One likelihood was India’s Siva Lingam, the Hindu deity’s penis. This would point to an encounter with it in a past life. But since dreams are also capable of looking well into the future it could have been a case of anticipation of later encounters in this life.

This suggests that dreams are open-ended. They can see in either direction. Not only that; contrary to the objectivists’ view, they are the blueprint of our life experiences. Thus, Jung’s predilection for darkness is prefigured in his childhood dream and not determined by the blackness of his father’s frock and that of the Jesuits and funerary garbs.

As we look to the Greek counterpart of the ritual phallus of his dream, we begin to understand Jung’s predilection for the darkness of the Unconscious. We recognise in him “Hades, the ubiquitous Hidden God in his intra-uterine, sleeping, or dead Black Sun phase; Lord of the Underworld or Lord of Death.

If it is argued that it could not have been his dream that determined his outlook and life-long preoccupation with it but the environment instead, we need to remember that dreaming and waking are inextricably entwined processes in which the initiator always is the dream, no matter how much residue may be included in it. As well as that we need to reflect on the fact that the environment, the waking phase, is not an objective reality, but a subjective projection of what has been passed on to the brain from the Pre-existent Reality that can be experienced, as Jung did himself, in the mystical ecstasy of the mysterium coniunctionis.


C. G. Jung, Childhood dream
How to Cite
Forrer, K. (2018). Jung’s childhood dream. International Journal of Dream Research, 11(1), 79–85. https://doi.org/10.11588/ijodr.2018.1.30093