It should have begun to dawn on our cultural optimists that the forces of good are not sufficient to produce either a rational world-order or the faultless ethical behaviour of the individual, whereas the forces of evil are so strong that they imperil any order at all and can imprison the individual in a devilish system that commits the most fearful crimes, so that even if he is ethically minded he must finally forget his moral responsibility in order to go on living.
The malignity of collective man has shown itself in more terrifying forms today than ever before in history, and it is by this objective standard that the greater and the lesser sins should be measured. We need more casuistic subtlety, because it is no longer a question of extirpating evil but of the difficult art of putting a lesser evil in place of a greater one.
The time for the sweeping statements so dear to the evangelising moralist, which lighten his task in the most agreeable way, is long past. Nor can the conflict be escaped by a denial of moral values. The very idea of this is foreign to our instincts and contrary to nature. Every human group that is not actually sitting in prison will follow its accustomed paths according to the measure of its freedom. Whatever the intellectual definition and evaluation of good and evil may be, the conflict between them can never be eradicated, for no one can ever forget it.
Even the Christian who feels himself delivered from evil will, when the first rapture is over, remember the thorn in the flesh, which even St Paul could not remove.
These hints suffice to make clear what kind of spirit it is that the daughter needs. They are the truths which speak to the soul, which are not too loud and do not insist too much, but reach the individual in stillness – the individual who constitutes the meaning of the world. It is this knowledge that the daughter needs, in order to pass it to her son.
Carl Jung, Mysterium Conjunctionis, The Moon Nature
Although the alchemists were more or less aware that their insights and truths were of divine origin, they knew they were not sacred revelations but were vouchsafed by individual inspiration or by the lumen naturae, sapientia Dei hidden in nature. The autonomy of their insights showed itself in the emancipation of science from the domination of faith. Human intolerance and shortsightedness are to blame for the open conflict that ultimately broke out between faith and knowledge. Conflict or comparison between incommensurables is impossible. The only possible attitude is one of mutual toleration, for neither can deprive the other of its validity. Existing religious beliefs have, besides their supernatural foundation, a basis in psychological facts whose existence is as valid as those of the empirical sciences. If this is not understood on one side or the other it makes no difference to the facts, for these exist whether man understands them or not, and whoever does not have the facts on his side will sooner or later have to pay the price.
With this I would like to conclude my remarks on sulphur. This arcane substance has provided occasion for some general reflections, which are not altogether fortuitous in that sulphur represents the active substance of the sun or, in psychological language, the motive factor in consciousness: on the one hand the will, which can best be regarded as a dynamism subordinated to consciousness, and on the other hand compulsion, an involuntary motivation or impulse ranging from mere interest to possession proper. The unconscious dynamism would correspond to sulphur, for compulsion is the great mystery of human life. It is the thwarting of our conscious will and of our reason by an inflammable element within us, appearing now as a consuming fire and now as life-giving warmth.
Carl Jung, Personification of the Opposites (Sulphur), Mysterium Conjunctionis