Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Rain-Maker Story

The Rain-Maker story (told by Richard Wilhelm in a lecture at the Psychological Club of Zurich in the 1920’s) 

Wilhelm told Jung that while he was living in Qingdao, China, there was a long dry spell in the region. The land in the countryside was utterly parched, and the crops were failing. As a consequence, many people were facing the prospect of starvation. Desperate, they tried to produce rainfall by performing all the religious rites they knew: the “Catholics made processions, the Protestants made prayers, and the Chinese burned joss-sticks and shot off guns to frighten away the demons of the drought, but with no result. Finally the Chinese said, ‘We will fetch the rain-maker.’” So they sent a message to another part of the country asking for the assistance of a well known rain-maker. Eventually a “dried up old man appeared. The only thing he asked for was a quiet little house somewhere, and there he locked himself in for three days. On the fourth day the clouds gathered and there was a great snow-storm at the time of the year when no snow was expected, an unusual amount, and the town was so full of rumours about the wonderful rain-maker that Wilhelm went to ask the man how he did it.” When asked, the old man replied: “I come from another country where things are in order. Here they are out of order, they are not as they should be in the ordinance of heaven. Therefore the whole country is not in Tao, and I also am not in the natural order of things because I am in a disordered country. So I had to wait three days until I was back in Tao and then naturally the rain came” (Visions, 1, p. 333). It was quite simple. He put himself in order, and this put the surrounding natural world in order. In turn, this brought into play what the community needed in order to survive, i.e., precipitation. Jung uses this story to illustrate the phenomenon of synchronicity.

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