How Much Is Enough?

How Much Is Enough?

This quote from C.G. Jung comes from his book, Psychology And The East. It is a very poignant message for our culture. It speaks to the quest for possessions and wanton consumerism that is commensurate with the upcoming Christmas season.

The externalization of culture may do away with a great many evils whose removal seems most desirable and beneficial, yet this step forward, as experience shows, is all too clearly paid for with a loss of spiritual culture. It is undeniably much more comfortable to live in a well-planned and hygienically equipped house, but this still does not answer the question of who is the dweller in this house and whether his soul rejoices in the same order and cleanliness as the house which ministers to his outer life. The man whose interests are all outside is never satisfied with what is necessary, but is perpetually hankering after something more and better which, true to his bias, he always seeks outside himself. He forgets completely that, for all his outward successes, he himself remains the same inwardly, and he therefore laments his poverty if he possesses only one automobile when the majority have two. Obviously the outward lives of men could do with a lot more bettering and beautifying, but these things lose their meaning when the inner man does not keep pace with them. To be satiated with “necessities” is no doubt an inestimable source of happiness, yet the inner man continues to raise his claim, and this can be satisfied by no outward possessions. And the less this voice is heard in the chase after the brilliant things of this world, the more the inner man becomes the source of inexplicable misfortune and uncomprehended unhappiness in the midst of living conditions whose outcome was expected to be entirely different. The externalization of life turns to incurable suffering, because no one can understand why he should suffer from himself. No one wonders at his insatiability, but regards it as his lawful right, never thinking that the one-sidedness of this psychic diet leads in the end to the gravest disturbances of equilibrium. That is the sickness of Western man, and he will not rest until he has infected the whole world with his own greedy restlessness (para. 962).

Jung, C. G. (1978). Psychology and the East. (R. F. C. Hull, Trans.), from The Collected Works of C. G. Jung, Vols. 10, 11, 13, and 18. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

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2 thoughts on “How Much Is Enough?

  1. I was just thinking the other day how my house is mostly a storage bin for my stuff and only a fraction of it is used for living space. To me, most of my possessions feel like a dead weight dragging me down. Most of them, not all of them…

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