The Rainmaker

There are a number of versions of this story told to C. G. Jung by his colleague Richard Wilhelm, but this is my favourite one:

The Rainmaker


There was a great drought where Wilhelm lived:

for months there had not been a drop of rain and the situation became catastrophic.


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. And from another province, 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 clouds gathered and there was a great snowstorm at the time of the year when no snow was expected, an unusual amount, and the town was so full of rumors about the wonderful rain maker that Wilhelm went to him to ask the man how he did it.


In true European fashion he said: “They call you the rain maker, will you tell me how you made the snow?” And the little Chinese man said: “I did not make the snow, I am not responsible.” “But what have you done these three days?” “Oh, I can explain that. I come from another country where things are in order. Here they are out of order, they are not as they should be by the ordnance of heaven. Therefore the whole country is not in Tao, and I am also 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.


A tiny village in China was suffering from the most severe drought anyone there could ever recall. There had not been a drop of rain for many months in an environment that depended on regular rainfall for its survival. The crops were dying. There was little food left. The water supply was running dangerously low. Dust flew everywhere, making it difficult for residents to breath. Death hung in the air. All manner of traditional rituals, ceremonies and petitionary prayers were attempted in hopes of driving away any evil demons or negative spirits and ending the devastating drought. But, despite their best efforts, no rain came. Desperate, the village elder decided to send for professional assistance from a far away province: a renowned rainmaker. Upon arriving, the old, wizened rainmaker requested something very strange. He directed the villagers to construct a small straw hut just outside the village itself, to bring him enough food and water to last for five days, and to then leave him there alone, solitary, absolutely undisturbed. Not sure what to think, the frightened villagers did exactly as he said, and anxiously waited. Nothing happened. Three days passed uneventfully. But on the fourth day, dark clouds suddenly appeared. And it began to rain. And rain. And rain. Ecstatic, grateful, yet totally mystified, the relieved villagers gathered round the rainmaker wanting to know how he had done it. He humbly and enigmatically explained: " I am not responsible for making the rain. When I first arrived in your village, it felt discordant, disharmonious, unbalanced, disturbed. And I felt out of sorts with myself. All I did was take time to get back in alignment with myself, into attunement with the Tao. Nature did the rest."