I was with him when he died. I was reading him the story I have been working on for the past 7 years. The previous night, I made a very difficult decision. He had been making phenomenal recovery from what should have been a fatal event 10 days earlier. But on the 9th day, he was sitting up in his hospital bed. He had a bible under one hand, and a pen and paper in the other. He immediately greeted me warmly when I walked in with a huge smile on his face, and I greeted him equally warmly. I asked him what he was doing. He told me that he had a lot of thank you letters to write but didn’t know where to begin. The nurse came in after a little while and fed him his medicine crushed up in pudding so he could swallow it. That was the problem. The day before, he had been more in a state of delirium than lucid consciousness. That day he worked his feed tube out of his stomach 4 times due to coughing or by using the back of his tongue. His entire critical care team was flummoxed by how quickly he was working it out, requiring it to be reinserted (not a pleasant experience… in fact, quite traumatic). The night nurse that night decided to leave it out. Dad rested peacefully. And, then I found him so happy to see me and wanting to write thank you cards. Everyone was so excited. Nurses who had cared for him earlier popped in to make sure I saw him. There was so much hope he would pull through this devastating event–where his heart had been stopped for more than 15 minutes as first responders worked so hard giving him CPR to get a shockable pulse.
So, here was the problem. To get him back to full health, he needed the feed tubing reinserted to get all the medicines he needed, and the doctors were not certain yet if his swallowing reflect had been damaged. How could we know after reinserting the feeding tube this final time that it would send him into a delirium he would never return from. That’s what happened. If I could do this over, I would have followed my gut and not allowed it. He would have died… I know this… but he would have died possibly more peacefully.
After almost 48 hours of non-stop movement of mind and body, my father was lost in space and time and utterly exhausted. The medicines were not calming him any more. Just before I was about to leave at midnight on the 10th night of him being in the ICU, his night nurse said, “If he was on Comfort Care, I could give him more medicine to help him calm down and rest.” The doctors had talked to us earlier that day about our options. I knew Comfort Care meant he was dying. And, so before I left, I gave instructions to move him to Comfort Care.
The next morning, he was sleeping. He nurse told me he had cleaned him and was doing everything to make him comfortable. He looked peaceful. He never woke, but I talked to him. I had a vision that morning about what I needed to do for him. So, after the nurse left, I told dad what I was going to do. Earlier that summer I promised to send him the latest part of my story. I hadn’t sent it yet. It is set in the time of the Vikings. My father was pure Norwegian. The girl in my story was on a glacier between Odda and Rosendal, Norway. My father’s family is from Odda. This girl in the story had just been in a terrible accident that left her companion unconscious and with broken ribs. My father’s ribs were broken from the CPR.
I told dad I was going to read him the story. It was going to be a sleigh made of sound to help him get across to the other side. In my story, my girl had just made a sleigh out of a bear hide to pull her injured companion across the glacier. So, my voice and this story they were going to serve as a sort of sleigh to help him cross. I told dad that his mother, his brother, brother-in-law, and all the people he knew and loved who had already passed were waiting for him. I told him he could leave any time during the story or wait until the end. Then, I started reading. The hospital Chaplin came after a while, and I told him all about dad. He said a prayer incorporating all the things I had told him. And, he recited Psalm 23.
I continued reading the story.
I read to him until 2:40 p.m. I held his hand as I read. I had just finished reading the part of the story where the priest meets a woman who mysteriously washes up on the shores of Dublin, Ireland. He helps her recover, find work, and get a home. They fall in love. They have to keep it hidden. They have a baby, but she dies during childbirth and the priest cannot admit he is the father, so he gives his daughter to the nuns who live in a nearby nunnery to be raised. I had read to him about this girl’s early childhood and a very scary nun she encounters. I was about to read him the part about Resurrection Sunday when I heard his breathing change–dramatically. I saw his pulse rate dropping–dramatically. I knew what was happening and rushed to him, my heart pounding. I told him mom and my brothers were 15 minutes away, he needed to wait. His breathing quicken and pulse went up, but only briefly. Then, it plummeted again. I knew the nurses could give him a drug through his IV to bring his pulse back up, but I also knew I had moved him to Comfort Care last night. Instead of running to get the nurse, I threw myself over him and hugged him fiercely. His nurse and doctor came in. They held my hand and hugged me. No one said anything. After some time I looked up and asked the doctor if he had gone. With the kindest face and deepest empathy, he nodded. Neither he nor the nurse left. They stayed with me and never once did I feel like they had anything more important to do–though I knew they were responsible for many people in very serious conditions. My mother and brothers arrived 10 minutes later. They had indeed been 15 minutes away, though when I told dad I had no way of knowing this. My brother thinks at the time of dad’s passing they were at the last rest stop, and mom was picking daisies. I had just been reading to dad about daises.
So, one year later, this is my telling of the journey I have been on since his death. It is told through music and art. The starting image I drew on the plane on July 27, 2018 as I flew out to be with my father one day after this heart attack. As I drew, I listened to Asura’s Life2 album. I listened to one song in particular over and over as the image took shape. This song was Celestial Tendencies. Each song from Asura’s album held special meaning and energy for me during this time. The music was a way to hold onto some divine and sublime at a time of great crisis and ultimate tragedy. The visual journey is an expansion of my original drawing in my notebook. Please forgive my indulgence as I spent a lot of time drawing the different layers. Ultimately, I decided to use each of the songs that helped me to be strong for dad and my family during this terrible time. I realize it is a video that probably only I will ever watch in its entirety.
The visual story of this journey can not be viewed. I have tried, but I believe algorithms used by most of the major social media platforms flagged this image possibly as a man on a cross and this has been tied to White Supremacy. I understand this concern. It is validate given our time. I would just say that this is how the vision of my father appeared to me as I flew out to be with him, and that during my 10 days with him, he indeed held his arms out this way many times for he was suffering. I think outstretched arms like this are also a symbol for the suffering of the world, and my father felt this deeply, our collective human suffering. It powered him and transformed him as a force of compassion in the world. As this image progresses, it transforms from an image of human suffering into one of transcendence. I am sorry I cannot share this work at this time, but that is our current reality and I accept the collective wisdom of our time.
You may be able to view the video if you can get to my Art Page on Facebook; here it is pinned to the top of the page.
As COVID-19 has steadily made its way around the world and really hit the United States of America particularly hard, I have thought a lot about those 10 days in the hospital sitting by my father’s side, hoping for the best but knowing he was skating between two realities–one was life, the other death. No one wanted to talk about the death reality, but it was there. It was always there. I could see it in the doctors eyes. I could feel it in the nurses voices. I drew it as I flew out to be with my beloved father.
He fought for life, absolutely he did. But, he was up against incredible odds, unbelievable odds that cannot be conveyed to a living person in good health because until you are at this threshold, you do not know. But, healthcare professionals learn to recognize the signs of approaching death, especially when people are fighting to just breathe, which is what dad was doing at the end because his lungs were filling up with the fluid. The doctors were watching for it because they knew Pulmonary edema or pneumonia is often a result after CPR because to do it right to save a person’s life, the first responders has to push hard often breaking ribs and pushing debris into the lungs, which causes the pneumonia.
This episode that I just heard on This American Life captures so vividly what I saw dad suffer through. I tuned in just as the nurses were describing what has to be done to save a person’s like can feel like torture. And my dad absolutely felt this way that day when he woke up, and he was writing thank yous, and we had a precious, fleeting moment of normalcy, until the feed tube had to be reinserted. This haunts me so much because he was wide awake and to him it felt like torture and he was counting on me to stop it…and I failed because I wanted to save him.
And now so many beautiful people are suffering through the very same thing. To find out more about this episode, click here.
I would like to end with two stories about my father that were given at his memorial service. One is by one of my brothers and the other by me. My father was one of the kindest, most caring, and compassionate human beings anyone could ever hope to encounter. His deep and unconditional love for everyone was felt by all who got to know him, even when they messed up, he held them in patience and love. What a lesson for the times we live in now.
This is my brother’s eulogy:
Monrad Kicks the Hell’s Angels Out of Yellowstone
As we go through life, our impressions and feelings toward our parents change. I’m going to share with you some impressions from my childhood, Around the age of eight or nine when we lived in South Dakota. At this age boys want a tough dad with street creds and unfortunately, I was convinced my father was a wimp. The previous sunday he had preached Yet another sermon on love. By my count the 4th sermon on love that summer .
But it didn’t matter because we were about to commence on a treasured family tradition ; the summer vacation. We’d take a popup camper and head out West for one or two weeks . On this trip, I believe we went to either Grand Teton or YellowStone, let’s just say it was Yellowstone.
We had the camping routine down pat. We’d set up camp, spend a few days hiking or fishing then move on to the next location. In these popular parks you needed to get to the next campsite early, well before 5 pm, or the campsites could fill up. On this particular day we had had a long drive and almost all the sites were taken but we finally found one and a nice secluded spot at that. After we had set up camp and were settling in, some loud motorcycles pulled up to a clearing just across the road from our camper. They wore leather jackets and skull caps. We kids immediately knew who they were because they had been covered in last week’s TV news. This was none other than the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang. About this time Monrad notices what is going on and Yell’s across to the gang “that is not a campsite, you can’t camp there.” The reply came back to “Mind your own business” or something similar. Monrad responded even louder and more angry “That is not a campsite you can’t camp there “. We kids were terrified, we were sure our dad was going to get beat up … or worse. But to our surprise after a few more exchanges, maybe a few insulting gestures exchanged as well, the bikers revved up their engines and moved on.
That was the day I was proud of my father, he just kicked the Hell’s Angels out of Yellowstone.
This is my eulogy:
Born: April 16, 1935; Died: August 4, 2018; Age: 83
My father… Monrad Mandsager… He is why you are here today… Monty! And, do you know what he would have said?
He would have said, “Goodness sakes… you’ve come all this way… for me! You shouldn’t have… thank you… thank you so much… thank you for coming!”
SHOWING UP & PAYING ATTENTION = LOVE
His whole life dad never felt worthy. In his mind, he was a poor, simple farm boy from Iowa who could never quite do all the things exactly the way his dad wanted them done, and he grew up without his mother’s kind and loving warmth and support. These early beginnings always left him questioning his worth. But my dad would always show up and give any task (big or small) his best! For him, what was most important was making time, paying attention, and creating a space to understand the needs of others because dad knew this is one of the greatest gifts we can give each other… for it is the most basic way we show our love to each other. Dad’s capacity to create and hold a sacred space for others was one of his superpowers! He would listen with empathy, kindness, and unwavering attention to someone’s life story, latest frustration, or good news. And, he would remember what you told him and ask you about it the next time he saw you.
SUPERPOWERS OF ATTENTION + LISTENING + UNDERSTANDING
Dad’s ability to pay attention and listen combined with his humbleness allowed him to be there for people at their greatest time of need. I remember one tragedy where dad demonstrated his tremendous capacity to empathize and be there for a grieving family after their 16-year-old son was killed in a hunting accident. I don’t remember all the details, but I remember my parents explaining to me how this family had lost several children before this tragedy and this was their last son. I remember going with mom and dad many times to visit the family after dad broke the terrible news to them. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of helplessness and sadness. But, I also remember knowing being there with my parents was important. I was no older than first grade, but I remember this experience vividly, and I’ll come back to this later for as I was reading through dad’s writings to figure out what I would say today, I found his reflections on this same tragedy for it had profoundly impacted him too. Grief it turns out is not bounded to one day or one week or one year… it is a deeply personal journey and dad understood this. He understood a time of grief is not a time to give people “pat answers” about why death or a tragedy occurred… neither is it a time to tell the person how and when to recover from it. He knew he didn’t know, but what he did know was he needed to be there for however long it took and at whatever capacity the family or individual needed, even if it meant just sitting in silence with them. I’m going to share with you several of dad’s amazing traits (I call them his superpowers), and now that he’s gone, I realize they were precious gifts given freely and in love to me and I suspect he gave them to many of you!
One of his wonderful superpowers was his adventuresome, wandering spirit. Little more than 6 weeks after being ordained at Luther Seminary and marrying mom, they took off to Brazil where dad was to serve as a missionary in Sao Paulo and the surrounding area. Mom and dad had to learn Portuguese and spent almost a year studying and learning it before dad began his mission work. He was one of the first missionaries to give all of his sermons in Portuguese, and of course, this is where I and my brother Craig were born. We learned Portuguese too and spoke it to everyone outside of our immediate family. I am told when we returned to the states, and I met my grandparents for the first time, I sat on their knees chattering happily away in Portuguese as they smiled and enjoyed meeting their granddaughter and grandson for the first time. I was pretty young in Brazil, but I have snap shot memories of life with my parents such as galloping on my father’s shoulders through the jungle with monkeys shrieking at us from high in the trees (that was magnificent)! Watching a steel drum band at a gathering and marveling at the beautiful music coming from the steel cans the musicians had turned into their drums dad had explained all this to me for he loved the steel drums! I also remember traveling with dad in our jeep over muddy, rutted, red roads and being surrounded by hundreds of sheep on their way home, leaving dad and I to revel in the wonder of the moment.
From Brazil, we flew back to the Midwest, this is where my brother Phillip was born. From there, dad helped his brother-in-law Bob start a new church in Southern CA – so, we moved to Sunnymead where my brother Peter was born – and, then our family was complete! I won’t go into all the places we moved or family vacations we took, but dad loved to travel, and he wanted us to experience and see the vast, beautiful, wondrous places of this land, and we saw many thanks to him!
THE DREAMER & LEARNER
My father was also a dreamer and lifelong learner! He loved geology, astronomy, anthropology, paleontology, and even astrophysics; he transferred his love of learning to me and my brothers! Dad would tell you that his love of learning and interests in science was sometimes disturbing to his faith, and he often navigated between the waters of faith and doubt. But, this made dad stronger, not weaker for he was able to transform his doubt into a deeper, vaster faith in God.
In his own words, he says, “Since I am often between faith and doubt, my stockpile of “pat answers” has diminished considerable. Life is discovery, growth, affirmation of faith in God in the midst of doubt. Life is affirmation of the creation of oneself, of others, of the goodness and love of God. Christ is our best light of this, pointing us to a loving Father God through the goodness and light His life has given for us in loving service through suffering even onto death.”
And, so here again you glimpse dad’s superpowers of kindness, compassion, and deep empathy for people and all living beings, and this guided him through his journey between the waters of faith and doubt; and it greatly informed his ministry for he saw himself as a humble servant who would stop to help anyone in need—and this is a gift he gave freely and frequently!
TRANSFORMATION OF FAITH
As I was reading dad’s writings, I found one piece he titled an Account of My Life to Age 43 where he describes honestly and elegantly his life journey, especially about the transformation of his faith. Here he accounts the same story I remembered about the 16-year-old boy. (I’ve changed the names for it seems even after all these years, the family is entitled to their privacy) Dad writes: “…the summer of ’72, we moved to Redway to serve Grace Lutheran Church. At that time, the KindFamily was a family of four: Joe, the father, a Roman Catholic and lumberjack; Corothy, the mother, a member of Grace; David (16) had been confirmed that Spring; and Lucy (13). Previous to our acquaintance, they had been a family of 7—two boys had been born with progressive muscular dystrophy and died in their young teens and a baby girl died of lung cancer at age 3. … About two months after our arrival Corothy talked about going to stay with her husband for a week in the woods – something she had never done before. She was apprehensive about leaving the kids. They ended up taking Lucy, while David was to stay with the next-door neighbors who were trusted friends. They left Sunday. Late Tuesday afternoon, council member, Karl came running up our steps, out of breath, a strained expression on this face. “Pastor, Pastor, something awful has happened, they found David dead beside his motorcycle and rifle along a trail. He’s been shot! This is awful. I can’t believe it… David’sthe only boy they had left! They were so proud of him. He was such a good kid. What are we going to do?”
Dad writes he was equally shocked as he attempted to reassure Karl that with God’s help they’d find a way to help the Kinds. Karl asked if dad would be there when the family arrived home to tell them what happened. Dad said yes, and he’d like Karl to be there too since he was a supporting friend of the family.” This event solidified for dad at a moment of great tragedy and grief, it is not a time to theologize or to tell a person not to protest to God as they grapple with the question why… why… why… Dad describes how he simply sat in the ditch with the father as he wept, and when he asked questions dad answered them simply with the information he knew. Then, they wept together, talked a little more, and wept again. Dad was there for days and weeks later walking with the family one small step at a time. He came to understand, as he tried to answer the agonizing question why, that we live in a world where accidents and disease happen, death is a mystery, and we don’t know all the answers. He came to believe it is not God who appoints the hour and manner of death, but more evil and death have come into our world through the backdoor (as it were). However, God is on the side of goodness and life; nevertheless, since evil, accidents, disease, and death have come among us, God Himself in Jesus, went through suffering, sorrow, and death… because he loves us and wants to show us he understands, cares, and shares our burdens and carries them with us during our greatest times of grief, pain, sorrow, and need. And, so the gift of faith was given to me—a gift dad demonstrated vividly throughout his life!
The Gift of Courage
The last gift I’ll mention today is courage. It was a heart attack that took him down the evening of July 25, and it was the heroic efforts of first responders and hospital staff in Albert Lea and the Mayo Clinic that brought him back along with our good neighbors who brought Mom to both hospitals that night to be with Dad. One nurse who had also been an EMT told me about 4% of patients flown in after such an event survive, so dad was a miracle—even if it was just one week. Each day on the ICU was a battle, but dad made amazing progress regaining consciousness and recognition surpassing the tempered hopes that the excellent doctors and nurses held for him and worked tirelessly to achieve. The best the team could work out is dad probably went without oxygen to his brain for 15 to 20 minutes—most agree after 9; severe brain damage can begin. Despite tremendous gains coming back consciously, his body continued to reel from catastrophic system failures. The doctors figured out one problem was a blockage in an artery in the heart, which they fixed this with a stint, but the other required a pace maker. This was a challenge because dad had several broken ribs since CPR is really only effective when ribs are broken. But, pneumonia set in creating a vicious cycle of needing to cough, which caused pain that sent him into cycles of delirium. It was a delicate balance the medical team at St. Mary’s walked, moment by moment to figure out what dad needed.
Two days before his death—I call it his Lazarus day. I arrived in the morning. He was sitting upright in bed with wonderful color to his face and a sparkle in his eyes. He was holding a pen, paper, and bible and exclaimed happily as I walked in: “Debbie!” I returned: “Dad!” I sat down beside him and asked him what he was doing. He told me he had a lot of thank yous to write but was having a hard time getting started.
The day before had been pretty rough for he had worked his feed tube out 3 times, earning him the title of the Hundi of Feeding Tubes. He still did not have it reinserted, and so his nurse fed him pudding with his pills crushed in it. It was slow, and dad was having a hard time swallowing. But, this day, everyone was so hopeful he could recover at least to this point; however, to do so, he would need the feed tube reinserted. This sent him into a delirium he would not come out of, and this is where the courage comes in… I had to have the courage to see the totality of his reality – I needed to reconcile the hope of his recovery with the despair of cascading system failures in his body. After 36 hours of continuous delirium, I made the tough decision to move him to comfort care, allowing the nurses and doctors to give him stronger medications to keep him comfortable and out of pain. The Mayo team was magnificent in providing me and our family with all the options ranging from further invasive interventions to comfort care, and it was his night nurse, Luis, who said something about being able to give dad stronger medicines that night, which finally made me understand the reality of dad’s situation. We had never made it out of the Sea of Delirium, and dad was suffering and needed me to make a courageous choice. So, I did.
When I returned the next morning, he was sleeping—the delirium was over. His day nurse told me he had cleaned him, and they were making him comfortable. He looked at peace. I could hear the gurgle of the pneumonia in his lungs, but he was not struggling for air. I sat down next to him and began to read part of the book I have written for I had promised to send him the manuscript but had not yet sent it. The Chaplin came in after a couple of hours. I told him all about dad and the past week. He recited the 23rdPsalm, and then he said a prayer incorporating everything I had told him. I resumed reading. His nurse came back to turn him. I continued reading holding his hand, comforted by his warmth. Less than 45 minutes later, his breathing suddenly changed. I looked at his monitor and saw his heart rate dropping just as it had been doing over the past week (this is why he needed a pace maker). I felt panic and pleaded with dad to wait for mom to arrive (for I felt she was 15 minutes away). Dad breathed, and his heart rate went up, but for less than a minute; then it plunged again. I wanted to run and get the nurse to give him a drug to increase his heart rate, but I didn’t… I knew he was going and I needed to let him go… this took tremendous courage… how could I let my father go? I couldn’t, so I threw myself on him, hugged him and cried. His nurse came in and put his arm around my shoulders as I held onto dad, and his doctor came in and held my hand. After a while, I looked up and asked, “Is he gone?” His doctor simply and compassionately confirmed dad had gone. My brothers and mom arrived 10 minutes later. His nurse and doctor stayed with us for a long time. I did not feel for one minute they had anything more important to do than to be a witness to dad’s passing and our grief—a tremendous gift.
The Gift of Love
So, thank you all for being here to remember dad and to celebrate his life and the many gifts he gave to so many of us.
I know dad never felt he deserved this sort of attention, but dad, if you are listening, you deserve it, every last bit of it for your gifts have healed so many people in our broken world, which desperately needs the compassion you shared and your capacity to listen and be with others during their greatest hour of need and to do so in kindness and with empathy, all of which came so natural to you.
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” — Carl Jung, The Philosophical Tree
The starting image of the video came from a dream where I had already fallen through layers of fear and what was left was a place of sadness. This is where I found the thing. It looks like a conglomeration of rocks. But my dream told me this thing is alive and feeds on fear and sadness.
Carl Jung talks about things that live inside our psyches. You cannot see, touch, or measure them in the ways we are accustomed to seeing, touching, and measuring things in the stream of Western Civilization, but that doesn’t mean these things are not there. Jung and many others defined things within our psyche that affect our thoughts and behavior at the deepest levels of our human beingness. They are not necessarily bad though they can impart nasty effects on us. Nevertheless, we need them to be human. In fact, they provide the energy our minds need to think and feel and dream. They give us motivation, focus, drive, essentially all the things that make us human. During his life, Carl Jung followed his intuition and insights informed by his clinic practice as a psychologist and psychiatrist to define what we know today as analytic psychology. He came to understand human beings are affected by energies that can emerge from the psyche spontaneously and affect us. Working with his patients, he came to understand all humans have access to shared images that encode psychic energies and experiences. He called them archetypes, and they are essential structures of our minds; just as skin and organs are essential structures for our human bodies. These psychic images extend back to primoradial times. They are a sort of short-hand, a memory of humanity’s shared experience of existence since emerging from an unconscious state of being to a conscious state of being; some probably span even further back. Archetypes live inside of us, they are us, and every human mind can access them. Indeed, a human mind cannot function without them.
There are other things living inside our minds as well. I believe my drawing is one of these other things.
While I worked on the drawing, I was also reading a collection of lectures C.G. Jung gave to his peers at the Institute of Medical Psychology in London between September 30 to October 4, 1935. The audience consisted of about 200 medical profession. A stenographic record was made of the lectures and discussions. Later, it was transcribed and edited by Mary Barker and Margaret Game along with being passed by Professor Jung before being printed and distributed by the Analytical Psychology Club of London in 1936. In Lecture 3, Jung clarifies aspects of a word association test he developed to help him understand what is going on inside the psyches of his patients. He explains that whenever a word in his test hits upon a complex residing in his patient, there is a measurable delay in the person’s response to the word.
"Complexes are partial or fragmentary personalities. When we speak of the ego-complex, we naturally assume it has a consciousness because the relationship of the various contents to the center in other words to the ego, is called consciousness. But, we also have a grouping of contents about a center, a sort of nucleus, in other complexes. So, we may ask the question: Do complexes have a consciousness of their own?"
— C.G. Jung, Analytical Psychology — Its Theory & Practice (1968), p. 82
In a previous lecture, he showed a diagram with different spheres of the mind. The center sphere is dark, representing the sphere of the unconsciousness. Jung explains the closer a person gets to the center, the more he or she will experience what Janet calls an abasement du nivea’s mental—or a state where one’s conscious autonomy begins to disappear. The closer to the center a person gets the more under the fascination of unconscious content they become. Jung says:
"Conscious autonomy loses its tension and its energy, and that energy reappears in the increased activity of unconscious contents. You can observe this process in an extreme form when you carefully study a case of insanity. The fascination of unconscious contents gradually grows stronger and conscious control vanishes in proportion until finally the patient sinks into the unconscious altogether and becomes completely victimized by it. He is the victim of a new autonomous activity that does not start from his ego but starts from the dark sphere."
— C.G. Jung, Analytical Psychology — Its Theory & Practice (1968), p. 82
Jung describes a complex as an agglomeration of associations (very much like the starting image of the thing I drew). A complex often originates from something of traumatic character, it is a thing of a highly toned character, and it can be painful to the person who has it. Jung says:
"Everything that is highly toned [in the psyche] is rather difficult to handle. If for instance, something is very important to me, I begin to hesitate when I attempt to do it, and you have probably observed that when you ask me difficult questions I cannot answer them immediately because the subject is important, and I have a long reaction time. I begin to stammer, and my memory does not supply the necessary material. Such disturbances are complex disturbances--even if what I say does not come from a personal complex of mine. It is simply an important affair, and whatever has an intense feeling-tone is difficult to handle because such contents are somehow associated with physiological reactions with processes of the heart, the tonus of the blood vessels, the condition of the intestines, the breathing, and the innervation of the skin. Whenever there is a high tonus it is just as if that particular complex had a body of its own, as if it were localized in my body to a certain extent, and that makes it unwieldy because something that irritates my body cannot be easily pushed away because it has its roots in my body and begins to pull at my nerves. Something that has little tonus and little emotional value can be easily brushed aside because it has no roots. It is not adherent or adhesive."
— C.G. Jung, Analytical Psychology — Its Theory & Practice (1968), p. 79-80
Jung further states: “A complex with its given tension or energy has the tendency to form a little personality of itself. It has a sort of body, a certain amount of its own physiology. It can upset the stomach. It upsets the breathing, it disturbs the heart—in short, it behaves like a personality. Complexes can interfere in unfortunate ways such as if you want to say or do something, but then you say or do something different from what you intended—that is because your best intentions get interrupted by the complex, exactly as if you had been interfered with by a human being or by circumstances from outside.” (p. 80)
Jung previously said in this lecture that: “Our ego is an agglomeration of highly toned contents too. The ego is supposed to be in full possession of the body; however, there is little difference between the ego-complex and any other complex. One can see this most clearly in a schizophrenic condition where complexes develop a certain will-power of their own [that] emancipate themselves from conscious control to such an extent they can become visible or audible to that person.” (p.80-81)
Jung said that he was not interested in the fact a person has a complex. We all have complexes. What interested him is what the unconsciousness is doing with the complex. Jung was famous for his ability to interpret dreams in ways very different from his contemporaries such as Freud. Indeed, Jung’s method began charting an interior territory of the psyche that revealed it to be much vaster, stranger, and bigger than Western thinking ever allowed it to be known to be. This is not true of Indigenous people or of Eastern thinking, which has maintained a connection to internal spaces and realities. Jung analyzed dreams because they provided a window into the unconscious mind and these internal spaces. He explained he did not like to analyze one dream because a single dream is arbitrary, rather he likes to compare a series of dreams (say 20 to 100) saying, “Then one can see interesting things and the continuity of the unconscious psyche.” (p. 87) Jung further states the unconscious is continually processing things and content night after night and even throughout the day. Quite extraordinarily he says:
“Presumably, we are dreaming all the time, although we are not aware of it by day because consciousness is much too clear. But at night, when there is that abasement du niveau mental, the dream can break through and become visible.”
C.G. Jung, Analytical Psychology — Its Theory & Practice (1968), p. 87
Wanting to understand the difference between complexes and archetypes better, I found an interesting article published by a Jungian analysts, Frith Luton in Melbourne, Australia. She quotes extensively from the Collected Works of CG Jungof which there are many volumes. A couple excerpts from her article are illuminating to my quest to understand the differences between an archetype and a complex:
"Complexes are in fact “splinter psyches.” The aetiology of their origin is frequently a so-called trauma, an emotional shock or some such thing, that splits off a bit of the psyche. Certainly one of the commonest causes is a moral conflict, which ultimately derives from the apparent impossibility of affirming the whole of one’s nature. [“A Review of the Complex Theory,” ibid., par. 204.]
Everyone knows nowadays that people “have complexes.” What is not so well known, though far more important theoretically, is that complexes can have us." [Ibid., par. 200.]
— “A Review of the Complex Theory,” ibid., par. 204
Luton points out complexes often form around an archetype like the mother or father. When they become “constellated”, they are invariably accompanied by affect, which is always relatively autonomous.” She says, “Jung stressed complexes in themselves are not negative; only their effects can be. In the same way that atoms and molecules are the invisible components of physical objects, complexes are the building blocks of the psycheand the source of all human emotions.” She quotes him writing:
"Complexes are focal or nodal points of psychic life which we would not wish to do without; indeed, they should not be missing, for otherwise psychic activity would come to a fatal standstill. [“A Psychological Theory of Types,” CW 6, par. 925.]
Complexes obviously represent a kind of inferiority in the broadest sense … [but] to have complexes does not necessarily indicate inferiority. It only means that something discordant, unassimilated, and antagonistic exists, perhaps as an obstacle, but also as an incentive to greater effort, and so, perhaps, to new possibilities of achievement. [Ibid., par. 925.] Some degree of one-sidedness is unavoidable, and, in the same measure, complexes are unavoidable too." [“Psychological Factors in Human Behaviour,” CW 8, par. 255.]
— Collected Works of CG Jung — Volumes 6 and 8
Luton further says having a complex is not the problem, believing one does not have one is a problem. She says, “As long as one is unconscious of the complexes, one is liable to be driven by them.” Quoting Jung, she writes:
“The possession of complexes does not in itself signify neurosis … and the fact that they are painful is no proof of pathological disturbance. Suffering is not an illness; it is the normal counterpole to happiness. A complex becomes pathological only when we think we have not got it.”
“Psychotherapy and a Philosophy of Life,” CW 16, par. 179.
In short, understanding is the best way to come to terms with a complex. I love how she ends her article quoting Jung who says:
“A complex can be really overcome only if it is lived out to the full. In other words, if we are to develop further we have to draw to us and drink down to the very dregs what, because of our complexes, we have held at a distance.”
“Psychological Aspects of the Mother Archetype,” CW 9i, par. 184.
I believe what I have drawn is a complex lodged deep inside my psyche. It has been there for a long time; in fact, it has been handed down to me from one generation to the next through my bloodline. It is not so much I need to destroy it or dissolve it or doing anything to it, but rather to be a witness to it through the loving light of the beautiful being inside of me. This simple act of witnessing can bring about transformations that unfold over time. This is the journey life affords us. This is the gift of being present with conscious awareness of the goodand the badthese complexes reveal to us over time. Perhaps through conscious awareness the dull conglomeration of rocks (aka living complexes) might be polished and turned into a precious jewel fit to serve at a center of a node in Indra’s Net.
What if the Gods and Goddess of our ancestors are really the stories about the archetypes living inside of us? And, what if complexes are what the gods and goddesses do to us over time? Every human being is connected to incredible inner worlds where endless stories are unfolding inside us all the time. Physics tells us the visible universe is less than 4% of the total universe. The rest is Dark Matter and Dark Energy. It is called dark because we cannot see or perceive it, thus it remains beyond our ability to divide, categorize, or measure. Though we virtually know nothing about it, we know our physical realm of existence (reality) would not be possible without Dark Matter and Dark Energy.
What if we humans are windows or portals into the unseen parts of our universe? It’s a strange idea…I know, but what is the soul, a spirit, the psyche rises from this realm of our universe? Throughout human history, we have celebrated explorers and voyagers who ventured to the furthest reaches of our planet and brought back stories of strange lands and people. We continue to celebrate voyaging into outer space using with robotic spaceships and cameras that send back spectacular images of our solar system with dreams of humans to follow. But, we have precious few stories and maps of voyages into inner space. Many people do undertake journeys into inner space; however, in Western Civilization, due to our inability to verify such journeys, the stories and maps brought back are disbelieved, doubted, deemed untrue, unreal. Our science for exploring this realm of existence is neonatal in Western culture. We are still stuck in our thinking functions that need to see and measure and divide the world into fragmentary pieces. Most of us who live in the Western modern world remain blind to what really powers us as human beings. Living within Western Civilization, we have become cut us off from our vital inner selves. We no longer can hear the beautiful being who lives inside us. In fact, we no longer believe there is anything inside of ourselves expect a complicated assortment of cells—nothing more than a magnificent machine. Using our thinking, we have built a jail that we now happily sit alone inside cut off from each other and from all of life. We live inside our self-created vacuums (fueled by narcissism and arrogance) and this has made us castaways from our true potential and destiny as a human being. Inside our soul prisons, we live cut off from what really powers us…cut off from what powers all life on our beautiful planet. Confined within our tiny jail cells, we can no longer access the wisdom that wells up inside of us and is needed to sustain us through this journey we call life.
Since archetypes can act like gravitational forces that constellate complexes, I wish to highlight a discussion with Jürgen, one of my dialogue partners, about the shadow. This archetype is frequently a troublemaker, and many of us end up with pretty big constellations of complexes that swirl around it. In a comment, he wrote from my pervious blog, he says:
"Quite fascinating what you are pulling to light from your inner world. It reminds me, btw, often times of observations that Paul Levy has made in regard to our challenged psyches and toxic relationships (He calls it 'malignant egophrenia' = ME, = the 'wetiko' of the Cree). In his book, 'Dispelling Wetiko. Breaking the Curse of Evil', he (Levy) writes:
"Modern civilization, though outwardly highly developed, is inwardly very primitive and preadolescent, an institutionalized form of barbarism in modern drag. It makes sense that Native peoples would know about malignant egophrenia, as they were oppressed by civilization yet weren’t, at least initially, under the “curse” of modern civilization. Being under the sway of modern civilization can feel as if something foreign to our nature is being imposed upon us, as if we are living in an occupied land. Modern civilization suffers from the overly one-sided dominance of the rational, intellectual mind, a one-sidedness that seemingly disconnects us from nature, from empathy, and from ourselves.
"It is important for us to become acquainted with the peculiar nature of the beast with which we are dealing. Strictly speaking, the wetiko virus doesn’t exist as a “thing” in the third dimension the way a biological virus does. In our Western, scientific, materialistic culture we have an absurd prejudice that something is real only if it exists in physical, quantifiable terms, while the indisputable fact is that the only form of existence we have immediate knowledge of is psychic. Wetiko can’t be objectified and said to be “this” or “that,” as it is a non-objectifiable phenomenon that is embedded in, operates via, and potentially alters the way we see. Wetiko acts as both a filter through which and a mirror in which we see ourselves. Wetiko is “ineffable,” in that it transcends both of the extremes of existence and nonexistence. From the absolute point of view, the wetiko virus doesn’t actually exist as a substantial entity. If we think wetiko is real, however, we have seemingly made it real, and fallen under its spell, simply by thinking so. And yet, if we decide wetiko doesn’t exist, and that we shouldn’t give it our attention, this stance is a form of ignorance which only ensures wetiko’s continued reign over our psyche. This shows us that wetiko, though ultimately having no substantial existence, is more than merely just an “appearance” conjured up by the way we are viewing it, while at the same time it is a “no-thing” that is precisely a display of how we are viewing it.
"So, ME is not simply evil; made conscious and treated with compassion it becomes a force of creation. Here, I think, we arrive at the point where his writings and yours complement each other in displaying the dreamlike nature of reality. Thank you once more for your writing and art."
— Jürgen Hornschuh quoting and synthesizing from Paul Levy
As I became fascinated, well, let’s be honest–obsessed in understanding the differences and relationships between archetypes and complexes…I did some research. Initially, I found a blog (Analytical Psychology on Complexes) that listed a wonderful list of complexes—some famous, others not so much. I was simply going to summarize this list when I got the idea to include some background of the complex from its originating myths or story for most of the complexes we refer to today have derived their names.
This is when things got really interesting, and I began to discover divergent themes in the storylines of the myths as well as divergent theories proposed by great thinkers in psychology, psychiatry, symbolism, and other specialities. Some of these ideas delved much deeper into the complexes. Upon closer and deeper scrutiny, it became clear to me that there is much more going on inside the psyche and with complexes than we think—indeed they are living and growing and evolving. For instance, I found a fascinating article about the Cain Complex written by Richard A. Hughes. This lead me to discover a series of letters between Professor Hughes and Dr. Leopold Szondi. Here I discovered a vast, uncharted territory both men were exploring on how complexes impact not only individuals, but also families over generations. This discovery validated what my dream had told me about the Thing That Feeds on Fear and Sadness—that it has existed for generations and was passed down to me through my bloodline.
The more I dug into each complex, the more mysterious each became. I began to ponder what if complexes not only impacted individuals and families over many generations, but also define the culture and civilization people live inside over time. What if a group of people all became impacted and affected by the same complex or group of complexes…say for example, the Cain Complex? What if this complex (or group of complexes) became constellated not only in the individual and the family, but also in the group (i.e., culture or civilization)? If this is so, then new psyches being born into (or brought into) the group would need to be broken in similar ways to activate the complex and ensure the new individuals fit properly into the accepted behavior and beliefs of the group. Thus, culture might also serve as a mechanism to impart the same psychic brokenness necessary to survive and thrive in the group. Individuals with the correct complex would understand the challenges the complex imparts, and they could share strategies on how to cope with the complex—some good, some bad—but shared. As a culture evolves, perhaps growing into a civilization, the shared complexes create a foundation for the future members of the group. They create a bedrock and the banks for the river of consciousness new members will flow down through their lives. All who are born into the civilization would need to be broken in specific ways to create the wounds required to activate the complex(es) needed to be a member of that civilization–an indoctrination to civilize the untamed mind of a newborn psyche so it flows properly within the confines of the civilization. For those who are not born into the civilization, this indoctrination can be brutal and cruel.
If complexes can be harnessed by a civilization to make its citizens fit into the collective cultural flow (i.e., the reality the civilization operates and embraces), then the stories about them are a trail of bread crumbs of how we have come to be as a group of people. I think Western Civilization has taken a very specific course that can be traced through common complexes. The story of Western Civilization seems to begin with the myths and stories and later complexes surrounding the Death of the Mother (i.e., the decline and ultimate end of matriarchal societies). Replaced by the rise of patriarchal societies (Patriarchy literally means “the rule of the father”) that are powered by Cain-Abel and Oedipus cycles. These persisted for thousands of years, interspersed with cycles of the Death of the Father mythical stories, which suggests the overthrow of the political structures represented by the father and replaced with the new political structures of the son. Such cycles have defined Western Civilization for centuries, but there have been terrifying aberrations such as Hitler. Professor Hughes and Dr. Leopold Szondi theorized Hitler broke both the Cain-Abel and Oedipus cycle because of a significant paroxysmal drive (i.e., a drive that causes fits of rage akin to an epileptic attack but that manifest as emotional outbursts) combined with paranoia and sadism.
This is all completely speculative, but it is clear to me that we humans (especially those of us submerged in Western Civilization) are barely scratching the surface in understanding our own psyches and how complexes affect us (i.e., their origins, their influence on individuals, on families, and on civilizations). All I can do is leave a mind trail of my questions and quest. I doubt most will find what follows very interesting, but for those who do… this is packing a backpack for a long journey into soul.
An example of a complex would be as follows: if one had a leg amputated when one was a child, this would influence one's life in profound ways, even if he or she overcame the physical handicap. A person may have many thoughts, emotions, memories, feelings of inferiority, triumphs, bitterness, and determinations centering on that one aspect of his or her life. If these thoughts were troubling and pervasive, Jung might say he or she had a complex about the leg.
"Complex existence is widely agreed upon in the area of depth psychology, a branch of psychology that asserts the most significant parts of one's personality are derived from one's unconscious. It is a way of mapping the psyche, and are crucial theoretical items in therapy. Complexes are believed by Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud to influence an individual's attitude and behavior."
A good place to start is the ego. Immediately here I ran into trouble in the definition of exactly what it is. Some say it stems from an idea of the “I” being the self believes itself to be the center of the Universe and requires instant gratification. I think this is rather the Id, which is where we all begin and then as we go through life we have experiences and are taught things that leave their emotional mark on our psyche, and this constellates and becomes our ego. The Wikipedia article says, “Jung included the ego in a broadly comprehensive theory of complexes, often referring to it as the ego-complex as illustrated when he said “by ego I understand a complex of ideas which constitutes the center of my field of consciousness and appears to possess a high degree of continuity and identity. Hence I also speak of an ego-complex.”
I think it is a fair assessment that we would not want to do without our ego complex for without it we would surely be silly putty in the world, incapable of doing much of anything without this constellation of feeling, emotion, and intelligence. Now, as discussed in the main part of this blog, Jung (and many others) observed there are times when our ego complex gets usurped by other entities in our psyche, and these are the complexes. We all have them. This is not the problem. It is remaining unconscious of them that can produce unexpected and unintended consequences in our lives—good and bad. So here are some of the most interesting complexes that seem to have significant long histories in our psyches, especially as Western Civilization rose and expanded over time. It is important to understand other civilizations took different routes that did not necessitate the Death of the Mother or the Father, and thus they have charted very different realms of inner space that we in the West remain mostly ignorant of.
Nature, motherhood, fertility, earth (e.g., Hathor, Isis, Gaia, Rhea); Mary, Mother of Jesus (e.g., motherhood, protective); creative force (e.g., birth/rebirth, growth/regrowth, regeneration); moon (e.g., Selene—Titan goddess; other moon goddesses around the world and time: Gleti, Mawu, Ilargi, Losna, Kuu, Selardi, Silewe Nazarate, Myeongwol, Lona, Hina, Mahina, Coyolxauhqui, Metztli, Arasy, Mama Killa, Ka-Ata-Killa,Hanwi, Awilix–Xbalanque, Huitaca, Chía, Jaci); snakes, triangles, and squiggles (e.g., triangles symbolize the female private area with entrances to old churches built with the symbol of the female private area to signify entering the womb); the Chalice/Cup; (e.g., womb of a woman, chalice is the symbol of the Holy Communion); Crow Mother or Angwusnasomtaka (e.g., nurturing, loving mother); Tapuat (e.g., labyrinth is the Hopi symbol for mother and child, it is the cradle, also the symbolize of from where we all come and shall eventually return); there are many more symbols for mother)
This complex is a group of feelings and toned ideas associated with the experience and image of mother. Clearly it is a symbol of source of life and nurturing and it foundational for humanity to even exist at all on Earth. From the Analytical Psychology Blog:
"Mother complex’ stems from the same roots as the ‘Father complex’, however in mother`s case it might take more serious and bigger dimensions as a mother is the one, who constantly remains with a child. ‘Mother complex’ differs from ‘Father complex’ also for the cause of her pregnancy and a necessity to carry a child throughout 9 months, which can be also saturated with a fear of losing a child or giving birth to an unhealthy person. The mother is the one, who is the most connected to the child and all her life revolves around the urgent necessity to care about him/her. The complex’s manifestations are practically the same as in the father`s case, however, it might take the feminine forms in particular situations, which is individual for each case ‘Mother`s Complex’ is not grave as long as it does not grow into obsession and does cause complications for mother`s life and that of a child."
Then, discovering Daryl Sharp’s Jung Lexicon from Frith Luton material, the depth of mother symbolism and impact on the psyche indeed goes deeper.
"The mother complex is a potentially active component of everyone's psyche, informed first of all by experience of the personal mother, then by significant contact with other women and by collective assumptions. The constellation of a mother complex has differing effects according to whether it appears in a son or a daughter.
A man's mother complex is influenced by the contrasexual complex, the anima. To the extent that a man establishes a good relationship with his inner woman (instead of being possessed by her), even a negative mother complex may have positive effects.
[He] may have a finely differentiated Eros instead of, or in addition to, homosexuality. . . . This gives him a great capacity for friendship, which often creates ties of astonishing tenderness between men and may even rescue friendship between the sexes from the limbo of the impossible. . . .In the same way, what in its negative aspect is Don Juanism can appear positively as bold and resolute manliness; ambitious striving after the highest goals; opposition to all stupidity, narrow-mindedness, injustice, and laziness; willingness to make sacrifices for what is regarded as right, sometimes bordering on heroism; perseverance, inflexibility and toughness of will; a curiosity that does not shrink even from the riddles of the universe; and finally, a revolutionary spirit which strives to put a new face upon the world.[Ibid., pars 164f.]
In the daughter, the effect of the mother complex ranges from stimulation of the feminine instinct to its inhibition. In the first case, the preponderance of instinct makes the woman unconscious of her own personality.
The exaggeration of the feminine side means an intensification of all female instincts, above all the maternal instinct. The negative aspect is seen in the woman whose only goal is childbirth. To her the husband is . . . first and foremost the instrument of procreation, and she regards him merely as an object to be looked after, along with children, poor relations, cats, dogs, and household furniture. [Ibid., par. 167.]
In the second case, the feminine instinct is inhibited or wiped out altogether. As a substitute, an overdeveloped Eros results, and this almost invariably leads to an unconscious incestuous relationship with the father. The intensified Eros places an abnormal emphasis on the personality of others. Jealousy of the mother and the desire to outdo her become the leitmotifs of subsequent undertakings.[Ibid., par. 168.]
Alternatively, the inhibition of the feminine instinct may lead a woman to identify with her mother. She is then unconscious of both her own maternal instinct and her Eros, which are then projected onto the mother.
As a sort of superwoman (admired involuntarily by the daughter), the mother lives out for her beforehand all that the girl might have lived for herself. She is content to cling to her mother in selfless devotion, while at the same time unconsciously striving, almost against her will, to tyrannize over her, naturally under the mask of complete loyalty and devotion. The daughter leads a shadow-existence, often visibly sucked dry by her mother, and she prolongs her mother's life by a sort of continuous blood transfusion.[ Ibid., par. 169.]
Because of their apparent "emptiness," these women are good hooks for men's projections. As devoted and self-sacrificing wives, they often project their own unconscious gifts onto their husbands.
And then we have the spectacle of a totally insignificant man who seemed to have no chance whatsoever suddenly soaring as if on a magic carpet to the highest summits of achievement. [ Ibid., par. 182.] In Jung's view, these three extreme types are linked together by many intermediate stages, the most important being where there is an overwhelming resistance to the mother and all she stands for. It is the supreme example of the negative mother-complex. The motto of this type is: Anything, so long as it is not like Mother! . . . All instinctive processes meet with unexpected difficulties; either sexuality does not function properly, or the children are unwanted, or maternal duties seem unbearable, or the demands of marital life are responded to with impatience and irritation.[Ibid., par. 170.]
Such a woman often excels in Logos activities, where her mother has no place. If she can overcome her merely reactive attitude toward reality, she may later in life come to a deeper appreciation of her femininity.
Thanks to her lucidity, objectivity, and masculinity, a woman of this type is frequently found in important positions in which her tardily discovered maternal quality, guided by a cool intelligence, exerts a most beneficial influence. This rare combination of womanliness and masculine understanding proves valuable in the realm of intimate relationships as well as in practical matters. [Ibid., par. 186.]
At the core of any mother complex is the mother archetype, which means that behind emotional associations with the personal mother, both in men and in women, there is a collective image of nourishment and security on the one hand (the positive mother), and devouring possessiveness on the other (the negative mother).
Connected to the Mother Complex is the Dead Mother Complex.
The dead mother complexis a clinical condition described by Andre Green involving an early and destructive identification with the figure of a 'dead' – or rather depressed and emotionally unavailable – mother. Green introduced the concept in an essay written in 1980, published in 1983, and translated into English in 1986. He saw the dead mother complex as involving a mother who was initially emotionally engaged with her child, but who then "switched off" from emotional resonance to emotional detachment, perhaps under the influence of loss and mourning in her own family of origin. The impact on the child, when it finds itself unable to restore a feeling contact, is the internalization of a hard unresponsive emotional core, which fosters a destructive form of narcissism, contributes to attachment disorders,and reveals itself as a major resistance to progress in the transference. Later, writers have argued for differentiating a range of responses within the dead mother complex, reserving the name dead mother syndrome for the most acute form.
Sky, Stars, Time (e.g., Zeus, Chronos, Rangi); Sun (e.g., Apollo, Ra, Grandfather Sun); Oak Tree; Raven (e.g., the messenger of Apollo, Raven Father, also Falcon and Eagle); Stag (e.g., antlers symbolize dominance, tools, weapons, and status)
The father complex is pervasive and even the most learned of men in psychology and psychiatry have succumb to its powers and been blinded by its effects. For instance, Freud and Jung seem to have fell under its influence and yet denied they had. According to Wikipedia, Freud argued the father complex consisted of fear, defiance, and disbelief of the father. He felt this is why some of his male patients resisted his treatment. Freud writes about this complex, which isthe conceptual core of his book Totem and Taboo (1912-3). Wikipedia says:
"Freud and Jung both used the father complex as a tool to illuminate their own personal relations. For example, as their early intimacy deepened, Jung had written to Freud asking him to "let me enjoy your friendship not as that of equals but as that of father and son".
However, in his own efforts “to struggle free from his psychoanalytic father figure (Freud), Jung would reject the term "father complex" as Viennese name calling—despite his own use of it in the past to illuminate precisely such situations.”Continuing from Wikipedia: “After the Freud/Jung split, Jung had equally continued to use the father complex to illuminate father/son relations, such as in the case of the father-dependent patient who Jung termed "a fils a papa" (regarding him, Jung wrote "[h]is father is still too much the guarantor of his existence"), or when Jung noted how a positive father complex could produce an over-readiness to believe in authority. Jung and his followers were equally prepared to use the concept to explain female psychology, such as when a negatively charged father complex made a woman feel that all men were likely to be uncooperative, judgmental, and harsh in the same image.Eating disorders expert Margo D. Maine used the concept of "father hunger" in her book Fathers, Daughters and Food (Nov 1991), with particular emphasis on the relationship with the daughter.Jungians have emphasized the power of parent hunger, forcing one repeatedly to seek out unactualized parts of the father archetype in the outside world. One answer men have been offered is to move into generativity; to find the lost father within themselves, the internal father, and hand him on to their successors, thereby shifting from demanding parental guidance to providing it.”
“This complex is described as deriving from a natural habit of constant preoccupation and care about child that can grow into a complex. Possessors of it usually publicly call their fathers ‘good fathers’ or “ideal fathers” (i.e., a father who gives their offspring the best without asking any remuneration or gratitude in return). This can set up mental dilemma where the child becomes a kind of parent obsessed. Even when all needs of a child are satisfied and they are grown up, a parent remains ready to run to the ‘child`s rescue’ as he is used to. If he does not do so, he becomes anxious. And even when he does so, he is anxious that is why this complex resembles a sort of vicious circle.
All caring male parents who are sensitive possess a ‘Father complex. It is practically difficult to avoid it as this type of father tends to spend his free time with a child, helping him/her learn the world and providing a happy and adequate life for a child. The father is teacher, guide, protector, advice giver, even if the child does not seek advice, the father gives it. When a child becomes an adult, he/she always remains a child for his/her parent—that is why the ‘parent-child relation’ does not change significantly even as children become adults. This can lead to an even closer relationship or it can cause a ruptureand alienation.”
“Father complex is group of feeling-toned ideas associated with the experience and image of father. (See also Logos.) In men, a positive father-complex very often produces a certain credulity with regard to authority and a distinct willingness to bow down before all spiritual dogmas and values; while in women, it induces the liveliest spiritual aspirations and interests. In dreams, it is always the father-figure from whom the decisive convictions, prohibitions, and wise counsels emanate. [“The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairytales,” CW 9i, par. 396.]
I will not reproduce all this valuable material for I do not know Daryl Sharp, but this entry ends with this vital insight—something I have never heard about this complex in relation to how it can impact a woman. He writes:
“What has been spoiled by the father” [A reference to Hexagram 18 in the I Ching (Richard Wilhelm edition, p. 80): “Work ok on What Has Been Spoiled.”] can only be made good by a father. [“The Personification of the Opposites,” CW 14, par. 232.]
Powerful indeed. I think culturally, we all remain very much under the influence of the Father Complex—both men and women. And, the father has most definitely become infused with the idea of God. As one looks across religions and time, one can see this transformation. Here are just some of the names of God as Father. Names of the Father:
Judaism – Elohim, I AM, YHWH, "Adonai" ("Lord")—Almost all Orthodox Jews avoid using either Yahweh or Jehovah altogether and use the term HaShem (השם) as an indirect reference to God or Lord; Christianity – “Early Christian writers, such as Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century, had used a form like Yahweh, and claim that this pronunciation of the tetragrammaton was never really lost. Other Greek transcriptions also indicated that YHWH should be pronounced Yahweh.” “God is quoted as saying‘I am the Alpha and the Omega.’ Some Quakers refer to God as The Light. Another term used is King of Kings or Lord of Lords and Lord of Hosts. Bog is the word for God in most Slavic languages.The term is derived from Proto-Slavic*bogъ, which originally meant "earthly wealth/well-being; fortune", with a semantic shift to "dispenser of wealth/fortune" and finally "god". The term may have originally been a borrowing from the Iranian languages.” Mormonism– the name of God the Father is Elohim, the name of Jesus in his pre-incarnate state was Jehovah. Together, with the Holy Ghost they form the Godhead; God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.Mormons typically refer to God as "Heavenly Father" or "Father in Heaven". Islam – Allah—meaning "He Who is Worshipped by Right" in Arabic—is the name of God in Islam.God has many names in Islam, the Qur'an says (translation) to Him Belong the Best Names (Lahu Al-Asmao Al-Husna), examples like Ar-Rahman (The Entirely Merciful), Ar-Rahim (The Especially Merciful). Sufism – In Tasawwuf, the inner, mystical dimension of Islam, Hu, Huwa (depends on placement in sentence), or Parvardigar in Persian are used as names of God. Bahá'í– their scriptures often refer to God by various titles and attributes, such as Almighty, All-Possessing, All-Powerful, All-Wise, Incomparable, Gracious, Helper, All-Glorious, and Omniscient. Bahá'ís believe the Greatest Name of God is "All-Glorious" or Bahá in Arabic.Hinduism – The Sanatana Dharma focuses only on formless God. There are multiple names for God's Various Forms worshiped as Demigod Deities (Devata and Devi)— कृष्णKrsna, Bhagavan, भगवान , Brahman,ब्रह्मन् ,Isvara ईश्वर , Brahma, ब्रह्मा ,Maha Visnu/Adi Narayan विष्णु , Siva शिव, Shakti शक्ति. Arya Samaj – Maharishi Dayanand in his book Satyarth Prakash has listed 100 names of God each representing some property or attribute thereof mentioning “Om or Aum” as God's personal and natural name. Jainism – rejects the idea of a creator deity responsible for the manifestation, creation, or maintenance of this universe. According to Jain doctrine, the universe and its constituents (soul, matter, space, time, and principles of motion) have always existed.Jains define godliness as the inherent quality of any soul characterizing infinite bliss, infinite power, Perfect knowledge and Perfect peace. However, these qualities of a soul are subdued due to karmas of the soul. One who achieves this state of soul through right belief, right knowledge and right conduct can be termed as god. Sikhism – some of the popular names for God in Sikhism are: Akal Purakh, meaning timeless being; Ik Onkar, One Creator, found at the beginning of the Sikh Mul Mantar; Nirankar, meaning formless; Satnam meaning True Name, some are of the opinion that this is a name for God in itself, others believe that this is an adjective used to describe the "Gurmantar", Waheguru; Waheguru, meaning Wonderful Teacher bringing light to remove darkness, this name is considered the greatest among Sikhs, and it is known as Gurmantar, the Guru's Word. Waheguru is the only way to meet God in Sikhism; Dātā or Dātār, meaning the Giver; Kartā or Kartār, meaning the Doer; Diāl, meaning compassionate; Kirpāl, meaning benevolent. Zoroastrianism – there are 101 names of God (PazandSad-o-yak nam-i-khoda) is a list of names of God (Ahura Mazda). The list is preserved in Persian, Pazand and Gujarati. Parsi tradition expanded this to a list of "101 names of God.
I explored this a little bit in my Divine Dodo blog
The Divine Dodo — Names of the Allfather:
Dodo hangs in the silence of the black void… stunned. https://sapience207.wordpress.com/2019/04/16/the-divine-dodo-names-of-the-allfather%EF%BB%BF/
Death of the Mother
One of the first things that seems to have occurred in the psychology and rise of Western Civilization is the death of the mother or the ending of the rule of the matriarchy. In the selection below, it is of particular interest to note Robert Graves (mythographer) who translated and interpreted many of the legends and myth fragments about Clytemnestra, Agamemnon, and Orestes. He believes some of these suggest a ritual killing of a “king” (Agamemnon) in very early religious ceremonies, which were suppressed when patriarchy replaced the matriarchies of very ancient Greece.
Orestes Complex – This complex’s hallmark is a suppressed desire of a son to get rid of his mother by all possible means. The Analytical Psychology blog says initial stages may manifest as a son totally isolating himself from his mother until a total cut-off of between mother and son occurs. Final stages can include a son`s manifested aggressive behavior towards the mother, but this can take different forms depending on the mother`s response.
What Happened: "In the Homeric telling of the story, Orestes is a member of the doomed house of Atreus, descended from Tantalus and Niobe. Orestes is absent from Mycenae when his father, Agamemnon, returns from the Trojan War. He brings with him the Trojan princess Cassandra as his concubine. Orestes is not present when Agamemnon, Cassandra, and their two children are murder by his wife (Orestes’ mother) Clytemnestra's lover Aegisthus. Seven years later, Orestes returns from Athens and avenges his father's death (with the help of his sister Electra)by slaying both Aegisthus and his own mother—Clytemnestra. [It should be notedthat Clytemnestra held a grudge against her husband for agreeing to sacrifice their eldest daughter, Iphigenia, to Artemis so he could send his ships to fight in the Trojan war.]
The Consequences: "In Aeschylus's Eumenides, Orestes goes mad after the deed and is pursued by the Erinyes, whose duty it is to punish any violation of the ties of family piety. He takes refuge in the temple at Delphi; but, even though Apollo had ordered him to do the deed, he is powerless to protect Orestes from the consequences. At last Athena receives him on the acropolis of Athens and arranges a formal trial of the case before twelve judges, including herself. The Erinyes demand their victim; he pleads the orders of Apollo. Athena votes last announcing that she is for acquittal; then the votes are counted, and the result is a tie, resulting in an acquittal according to the rules previously stipulated by Athena. The Erinyes are propitiated by a new ritual, in which they are worshipped as "Semnai Theai", "Venerable Goddesses", and Orestes dedicates an altar to Athena Areia.
Deeper Meaning: End of the matriarchies in the Western World: "In The Greek Myths the mythographer and poet Robert Graves translates and interprets the legends and myth fragments about Clytemnestra, Agamemnon, and Orestes, as suggesting a ritual killing of a "king" (Agamemnon) in very early religious ceremonies that were suppressed when patriarchy replaced the matriarchies of very ancient Greece. Graves interprets the sacrilege for which the Erinyes pursued Orestes, namely the killing of his mother, as representing symbolically the destruction of the ancient matriarchy and its replacement by patriarchy. He suggests that worship of the female deity Athena was retained as a cult because, despite the overthrow of matriarchy and woman-rule generally, it was too strong to be suppressed; Graves thinks she was recast as a child of Zeus (born without a mother, directly from Zeus' head) in the new patriarchal myths. As a character in Aeschylus' trilogy, Athena was given the previously incomprehensible role of justifying the overthrow, rationalizing as a "new way of justice" what would have been a horrific crime against the old, matriarchal religious customs. Graves, and many other mythographers including most notably those of the Cambridge Ritualist school, were influenced by The Golden Bough of James Frazer, who postulated that myths often reveal clues to ancient religious practices and rituals.
As Dodo falls back towards the beast, he hears birds chirping, water running, and wind blowing through trees—such sweet, nourishing sounds that remind him of Earth—his lost paradise, which makes Dodo sad for he remains stuck in the endless vacuous void—Hell! The bounce DJ and the drummers gave him was not strong enough to help him escape the gravity of the beast. And so, the only thing he can do is spiral down again towards the beast comforted only by his sadness.
With the mother suppressed, the rule of the father and reign of the patriarchy begins. With it a new psychic struggle for power and control begins as depicted in myths and stories about this struggle. One of the key stories is that of Cain and Abel.
Cain Complex – This complex is primarily viewed as a rivalry between brothers or/and sisters for all-inclusive parental love (in childhood) and highest social status (in adulthood). The Analytical Psychology blog says, “Competition may take violent forms and accepts victory (supremacy) only of one of the siblings.” Another traditional interpretation of it comes from Alchemipedia:
Cain Complex Facts:
1) The Cain complex is characterized by rivalry, competition, & extreme jealousy (or envy) of a brother, leading to hatred;
2) In Psychiatry, this complex is recognized as a destructive form of sibling rivalry which may lead to fratricide;
3) There is usually perceived favoritism from a parental figure.
Cain Complex Biblical Origins:
1) Cain was the first son of Adam & Eve. (Bible - Gen. 4.);
2) Cain murdered his brother Abel (see painting) out of jealousy & was condemned to be a fugitive by God;
3) The 2 brothers, on one Sabbath(?) presented their offerings to the Lord;
4) Abel's offering was of the "firstlings of his flock and of the fat," while Cain's was "of the fruit of the ground."
5) Abel's sacrifice was considered "more excellent" (Heb. 11:4) than Cain's, & was accepted by God.
6) From this event Cain was "very wroth," & cherished feelings of murderous hatred against his brother; leading to the murder of Abel (1 John 3:12).
7) For this crime Cain was expelled from Eden, & henceforth led the life of an exile.
As with the other complexes, I think there is more going on with this complex. A journal article by Richard Hughes in the American Imago (Fall, 1979) entitled Szondi’s Theory of the Cain Complex suggests indeed there is a lot more to this complex. He writes:
“It is customary within modern religious thought to interpret the nature of evil on the basis of ancient myth. This is because modern scholarship has revealed that the forms of religion are dependent on archaic sources. Frequently, the interpretations of human action are developed with concepts borrowed from psychiatry, particularly psychoanalysis. Based upon the Oedipus Complex, the psychoanalytic view narrates the rebellion of the sons against a primal father. They conspire against him, murder him, and replace him with their own political organization.The political community is organized around a totem and the incest taboo.The spirit of rebellion continues to inform political activity, since it consists of aggressive young men who, with sexual desire, plunder their enemies and possess their women. In this vision, evil comes from an original crime, the components of which are aggression and sexuality. The paradigm of evil is the murder of the patriarchal authority.
The psychoanalytic interpretation of evil has influenced considerably recent theological discussions. For the mythical vision of the primal murder translates into a ‘Death of God’ theology. This conversation implies that the reality of God is incompatible with radical evil. Thus, the massive release of evil in the twentieth century—the wars, terrorism, the Holocaust—are analogous with the slaying of God. The provide the occasion for widespread unbelief.
The aim of this essay is to explore an alternative myth structure. While not rejecting the Oedipus Complex as such, the essay discusses the Cain Complex and seeks its religious implications. The Cain concept appears throughout the writings of L. Szondi, a Hungarian psychiatrist who, for several decades, has been practicing in Zurich, Switzerland. Though not well known in this country he has…”
— Richard Hughes, American Imago (Fall, 1979), Szondi’s Theory of the Cain Complex
That is all I can read from this excerpt, but what Hughes is suggesting is profound, even if it is not entirely accurate for how could one theory encompass what has become a global civilization that being Western Civilization with a hallmark of expansion, plundering, and possession of women, but also precious resources in the lands where Westerners have expanded. Perhaps every person who depends on Western systems to survive (e.g., economy, politics, culture) has at least one foot in this complex, if not being completely submerged in it. And so, the son kills the father, which symbolize the replacement of the father’s rule with the son’s version of patriarchal rule, and with each version Hughes and Szondi suggest there was a murdering the previous polytheism beliefs until arriving at to monotheism, and then the final father is murder…the Death of God… arriving at atheism, but also as Hughes says above the massive release of evil in the 20thCentury… a toxic release we have still not let completely out. Hughes and Szondi suggest the Cain-Abel cycle is a necessary balance between the opposites. From a webpage dedicated to Szondi, I found this explanation:
Cain, Abel, Moses Szondi's show of reality is marked by the experience that in each complementary pair of opposites (polarity) the poles are dynamically and inseparably connected, thus forming an entirety. Therefore, it must not be one-sidedly aimed at the good and fought the evil, but rather good and evil must be understood as two sides of a unity which to keep in a dynamic balance. To understand human affective dynamics, Szondi attached much importance to the polarity of Cain and Abel. The duty of man to recognize the complementary opposites in him and to live them, finds its symbolic interpretation in the integrating figure of Moses. In the person of Moses, the outstanding human achievement of conscience and ethics takes shape through the dialectically combined activity of Cain and Abel.
Several other readings that were stimulated from a discussion on the Cain Complex include:
Moulton Lava: The Mark of Cain and the Mark of Pain: An emphatic retelling of the Cain and Abel story and penetrating questions such as Can you recognize an anguished Mark of Pain on the soul of a fellow traveler?
Cognition, Affect, and Learning: The Role of Emotions In Learning: “Our species, Homo Sapiens, is the being who thinks. But we are also the beings who learn, and the beings who experience a rich spectrum of affective emotional states. This article presents research and theoretical models relating emotions to learning and cognition.” I love Figure 4: The Roller Coaster Learning Curve, which also looks like a snake and Jung says the progression between conscious content and unconscious content is always like the motion of a snake… just like this learning curve: “In the above slide, we can see the ups and downs of the rollicking learning curve. We call this ‘Non-Monotonic Learning’ to remind ourselves that sometimes we acquire erroneous beliefs and misconceptions which we eventually have to discard. In that slide, I’ve superimposed a ‘Frowny Face Scowl’ and a ‘Happy Face Smile’ to point out where the emotional states are variously negative valence (unhappy) and positive valence (happy).”
Contagion by Barry Kort – This is short (unlike my blogs) and very important. Here are key take away from the end, but it is worth reading the 5 stages: “The 5-stage pattern can be observed to repeat at all levels of power and for all rivalries and competitions. The most virulent conflicts are over respect, attention, money, power, sex, land, cultural values, or ideology. Ethnic conflicts, political conflicts, and culture wars typically follow this model. At every stage of the model, we need to be mindful of the dynamic we are caught up in, and consciously elect to run the model in reverse. Until now, the great theologians and peacemakers presented this as tenets of important religions or as tenets of ethics or morality. Girard has taken us to the next step of reckoning this model as a sociological or systems theoretical model capable of guiding public policy, especially policy regarding the way we think about law and order or crime and punishment.”
Death of the Father
In the age of the Death of the Father, the archetypes, complexes, and stories diverge in all sorts of ways that continue to fracture and diverge to this day. There is no straight line in the psyche. For instance, there continue to be pockets on Earth where matriarchalsocieties survive, also where the rule of the first patriarchal societies survive, but also where the overthrow of the father by the son has occurred, many times. Hughes and Szondi (cited above) suggest the Death of the Father corresponds with the death of God, which has unleashed untold abuses of power and authority in the 20thcentury. Regardless of which patriarchal rule women have had to survive under, Western patriarchal have tended to be brutal to woman and put them in terrible situations where they have loss of control of even their own bodies and self-determination. Thus, the stories and complexes that follow the Death of the Father seem to be what happens to men and women over time after the Death of Mother.
The most famous story about the death of the father is the Oedipus and Elektra story, but there are others found throughout other times and civilizations. Freud thought these two complexes were the only complexes that affected the human psyche. He built his whole analysis around them. While they are deeply significant, the rift between Freud and Jung started with their differences on complexes. Jung saw there were many more, leading him into his groundbreaking work about them, the archetypes, and collective unconscious.
Complex of Oedipus\Elektra – These complexes are famous and complicated as their myths reveal, thus beware of over-simplified definitions of them. The best-known version of the Oedipus myth is:
Oedipus was born to King Laius and Queen Jocasta. Laius wished to thwart a prophecy given to him that his son would kill him and marry his wife, so he sent a shepherd-servant to leave Oedipus (his newborn son) to die on a mountainside. However, the shepherd took pity on the baby and passed him to another shepherd who gave Oedipus to King Polybus and Queen Merope to raise as their own. Oedipus learned from the oracle at Delphi of the prophecy that he would end up killing his father and marrying his mother but, unaware of his true parentage, believed he was fated to murder Polybus and marry Merope, so left for Thebes. On his way he met an older man and killed him in a quarrel. Continuing on to Thebes, he found that the king of the city (Laius) had been recently killed, and that the city was at the mercy of the Sphinx. Oedipus answered the monster's riddlecorrectly, defeating it and winning the throne of the dead king – and the hand in marriage of the king's widow, who was also (unbeknownst to him) his mother Jocasta. Years later, to end a plague on Thebes, Oedipus searched to find who had killed Laius, and discovered that he himself was responsible. Jocasta, upon realizing that she had married her own son, hanged herself. Oedipus then seized two pins from her dress and blinded himself with them. – From Wikipedia
In women, this complex is known as the Elektra Complex. In Greek mythology, Elektra was the daughter of King Agamemnon and Queen Clytemnestra, and thus princess of Argos. She and her brother Orestes plotted revenge against their mother Clytemnestra and stepfather Aegisthus for the murder of their father. This is because when Electra’s father, King Agamemnon, returned from the Trojan War, he brought with him his war prize from the Trojan War Princess Cassandrawho had already borne him twin sons. Upon their arrival, Agamemnon and Cassandra were murdered by either Clytemnestra herself or her lover Aegisthusor both. Clytemnestra had held a grudge against her husband for agreeing to sacrifice their eldest daughter, Iphigenia, to Artemis so he could send his ships to fight in the Trojan war, thus she killed him upon his return. Eight years later, Electra plotted and helped her brother, Orestes, murder their mother and step-father. – Partially from Wikipedia
Jocasta complex – This complex also originates from the Oedipus myth and it typified by a mother’s obsessive fixation of her son leading to an adoration cult of son. From Wikipedia: In psychoanalytic theory, the Jocasta complex is the incestuoussexual desire of a mother towards her son. Raymond de Saussure introduced the term in 1920 by way of analogy to its logical converse in psychoanalysis, the Oedipus complex, and it may be used to cover different degrees of attachment, including domineering but asexual mother love – something perhaps particularly prevalent with an absent father. The Jocasta complex is named for Jocasta, a Greek queen who unwittingly married her son, Oedipus. The Jocasta complex is similar to the Oedipus complex, in which a child has sexual desire towards their parent(s). The term is a bit of an extrapolation, since in the original story Oedipus and Jocasta were unaware that they were mother and son when they married. The usage in modern contexts involves a son with full knowledge of who his mother is. Theodor Reik saw the “Jocasta mother”, with an unfulfilled adult relationship of her own and an over-concern for her child instead, as a prime source of neurosis. George Devereux went further, arguing that the child’s Oedipal complex was itself triggered by a pre-existing parental complex (Jocasta/Laius). Eric Berne also explored the other (parental) side of the Oedipus complex, pointing to related family dramas such as “mother sleeping with daughter’s boyfriend … when mother has no son to play Jocasta with.”
Medea Complex – This complexrefers to a disturbed mother-child relationship with obvious destructive aspects. An article in the Jung Journal says: “It evokes a central theme that Jung articulated in his writing about the Terrible Mother. The best-known story of Medea is based on the mythical figure portrayed in Euripides’s fifth-century BCE play. The complex, as well as this story, includes elements of betrayal, abandonment, stealing, and vengeance directed at helpless children.”In Euripides’ play, Medea is a woman scorned and rejected by her husband Jason, and thus seeks her revenge.
"In the play, the Nurse gives descriptions of Medea in the prologue, highlighting comparisons to great forces of nature and different animals. There are also many nautical references throughout the play either used by other characters when describing Medea or by Medea herself. By including these references, Boedeker argues that these comparisons were used to create connections to the type of woman Medea was. She holds great power (referred to by the comparisons to forces of nature), she relies on her basic animal-like instincts and emotions (connections to different animals like bulls and lions), and it draws the audience back her original myth of Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece and the sea voyage taken by Jason, Medea, and the Argonauts.
Emma Griffiths adds to the analysis of Medea's character in Euripides's play by discussing the male/female dichotomy created by Euripides. Medea does not fit into the mold of a “normal woman” according to Athenian philosophy. She is depicted as having great intelligence and skill, something typically viewed as a masculine trait by Euripides' original audience. On the other hand, she uses that cunning in order to manipulate the men around her, and manipulation of other people would have been a negative female trait to the Athenian audience. There is also the paradox of how she chooses to murder her victims in the play. She poisons the princess, which would have been seen as a feminine way of murder, yet kills her children in cold blood, which is seen as more masculine. She also has dialogue about her children and shows a strong maternal love and connection to them, something that was essential to “normal women” in Athenian society. Yet at the end of the play she is able to kill her children as part of her revenge. It is through these opposites that Euripides creates a complicated character for his protagonist.
Griselda Complex – This complex is misunderstood. Some say it embodies a father’s obsessive desire of a father to keep his daughter by his side, impeding her getting married. But the roots of this story are much deeper than this. It is a story of a monstrous husband and in-laws and the gentleness and unquestioning obedience of the wife, Griselda. In the book Women, Family and Ritual in Renaissance Italy by Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, I think she hits upon the heart of this complex as she traces this story to the emergence of the Western system of a bride price that transformed into the custom of giving a dowry when a woman married. This particularly become embedded as a ritual custom with the emergence of money and the acceptance of the rights of male heirs only to inherit their father’s estate to the exclusion of female members. She points out that the men of the woman’s clan do this partly to endow the wife as worthy since she is essentially an alien member to the husband’s family lineage. This is really important. We think we are so evolved as modern humans, but deep roots clearly descend down to our most primitive instincts around resource guarding and lineage purity. The story of Griselda is one of husband cruelty and her acceptance of it.
From Wikipedia: In the most famous version of the Griselda tale, written by Giovanni Boccaccio c. 1350, Griselda marries Gualtieri, the Marquis of Saluzzo, who tests her by declaring that their two children—a son and a daughter—must both be put to death. Griselda gives both of them up without protest, but Gualtieri doesn't actually kill the children, instead sending them away to Bologna to be raised. In a final test, Gualtieri publicly renounces Griselda, claiming he had been granted papal dispensation to divorce her and marry a better woman; Griselda goes to live with her father. Some years later, Gualtieri announces he is to remarry and recalls Griselda as a servant to prepare the wedding celebrations. He introduces her to a twelve-year-old girl he claims is to be his bride but who is really their daughter; Griselda wishes them well. At this, Gualtieri reveals their grown children to her and Griselda is restored to her place as wife and mother.Returning back to Klapisch-Zuber’s book, she says (and I think this is getting at the heart of the matter of this story and this complex, which may really be a group complex): “In order to cross the frontier that separates the human world from the supernatural, Griselda has to take on, then rid herself of, the clothing appropriate to that passage [Note: this refers to jewels and wedding dress the husband might adorn his new bride]. Rites of clothing have a profound unity, whether they signal a passage from this world to the supernatural or, as here, are taken by Florentines almost as law. This unity emerges clearly in the formula Tibi res tuas habetothat Apuleius puts in the mouth of Cupid as he rejects Psyche (another version of the same tale), since this was the very formula that signified divorce in classical antiquity. Similarly, a Florentine widow would carry away her dowry goods, and Griselda only her chemise, leaving the rich garments and jewels offered by the husband under his heirs’ roof. Both wore their finery and their jewels only as long as their marriage lasted, be that for a long period of conjugal union, sometimes further prolonged by a chaste widowhood, or for the short span of the nuptial period.”
I leave the reader to parse out the truth of this complex if it be a complex, I believe it is possibly a cultural or collective complex we all fall victim to.
Adonis Complex – This complex occurs in men stemming from a perception he is singularly unique because of his beauty. This belief is enhanced by people around him who notice and are affected by his good looks. In Greek mythology, Adonis was the mortal lover of the goddess Aphrodite. Let’s just say it didn’t end well for Adonis. A man with this complex demonstrates a constant perception of his own physical attractiveness. He plays with the power of his beauty and charm. He can be extremely selfish. This complex can take a grave form and threaten the safety of the others, which can lead to forceful isolation of the ‘sufferer’ from the rest of the world.
God Complex – This complex consists of a widespread illusion of unlimited personal potential and/or power. In Greek mythology, Narcissus suffered from this complex. He was so proud to the point “he disdained those who loved him, causing some to commit suicide to prove their unrelenting devotion to his striking beauty. Narcissus is the origin of the term narcissism, a fixation with oneself and one’s physical appearance or public perception.” (Wikipedia) A person with this complex can become the source of serious troubles between him/herself and society. The idea of being omnipotence can lead to substances use and the constant need to stimulate the brain core (e.g., either regular occurrences of life-threatening accidents or engaging in life-threatening risky activities). Another hallmark is stubbornness and a categorical unwillingness to admit one`s own faults. A person with this complex regularly ignores the opinions of others, especially if they do not agree with their own ideas. This complex tends to grow into a maniac syndrome if treatment and consciousness is not brought to it.
Cassandra Complex – This complexrefers to a belief destiny can be known in advance. In the Greek myth, Cassandra was cursed to utter prophecies that were true but that no one believes her. Such an individual has a superordinate amount of empathy and a strong certainty they have an important mission to accomplish that is informed through insights, visions, and constant warnings about the consequence of incorrect behavior. This strong calling and visions can cause the person to experience physical and emotional suffering that is exacerbated when they try to share the source of their worry or concern because others do not believe them. Their inability, ignorance, or unwillingness to understand cause suffering worse than the visions.
Antigone Complex – This complex is extremely complicated. From what I have read, it is sorely misunderstood, especially by Freud. The best analysis I found is a blog by Mark Thorn in which his last paragraph summarizes a very complicated complex better than anything else I read. He says: “ ‘Antigone’ literally means ‘against birth,’ or ‘contrary birth,’ which most have interpreted to indicate Antigone’s status as the product of incest, a perverse or ‘contrary’ union. However, a literal interpretation of ‘against birth’ is perhaps more significant. Antigone unconsciously wished to return to the womb, to pre-birth; she truly wished to undo her birth throughout the action of Antigone. Antigone embodies the human predicament: the forced renunciation of primary and secondary love-objects, the subsequent substitute-gratifications, the perpetual conflict between social demands and instinctual aims, and the clash between the two irresolvable fundamental drives—one seeking life and pleasure, the other wishing to undo life altogether.”
"Before this Thorn describes the situation and motivations that lead Antigone to kill herself saying: “In Greek mythology—and Sophocles’ Oedipus trilogy is but a dramatization of the Oedipus myth—Earth was an animate being, Gaia. Hence when Ouranos stuffed his newborn children into the Earth, he was literally returning them to the womb of their mother, Gaia; he was essentially undoing their births. Antigone’s wish to bury Polyneices in the Earth may accordingly be considered a symbolic wish to envelop him in a womb, the sexual nature of which is made clear by the psychology of Otto Rank.
In The Trauma of Birth, Rank proposed that the shock of being born leaves indelible impressions upon the human psyche, “that man never gives up the lost happiness of pre-natal life and that he seeks to reestablish this former state, not only in all his cultural strivings, but also in the act of procreation.” Rank views the sexual act as an attempt to restore the primal intra-uterine pleasure—physically direct for the male, physically vicarious for the female. Accordingly, Antigone’s burial of Polyneices, her father-surrogate, may unconsciously signify his entry into her womb and the attainment of the sexual love which she had hoped to receive originally from Oedipus.”
"(…) “As the story progresses, it becomes increasingly apparent that Antigone does not fear but anxiously awaits death. But what compels her to seek death? A closer analysis of her suicide elucidates the unconscious forces at play.
Throughout mythology and dreams, the cave frequently symbolizes the womb. Therefore, hanging in a cave, as Antigone does, symbolizes inhabiting a womb, in which one hangs by the umbilical cord. So perhaps Antigone’s evident wish for death was in fact a wish for a pre-birth state, a desire encompassed in Thanatos, Freud’s death instinct.
Freud supposed that human life was motivated by two fundamental drives: Eros, the life instinct, and Thanatos, the death instinct. While Eros seeks proliferation and activity, Thanatos seeks homeostasis and inactivity; the Death instinct strives toward nonexistence, the state preceding birth. But why was Antigone so anxious to meet death, or rather return to pre-birth? Why was her life governed by Thanatos? Could returning to her mother’s womb satisfy either her primary love for her father or her secondary love for Polyneices, her father-substitute?”
After reading Thorn’s piece, I categorically reject the other interpretations of this complex. It is worth reading his piece in its entirety to draw your own conclusions.
Complex of Don Juan – Don Juan is a wealthy libertine who devotes his life to seducing women. He takes great pride in his ability to seduce women all ages and stations in life, and he often disguises himself and assumes other identities in order to seduce women. During the 1918 influenza epidemic in Spain, the figure of Don Juan served as a metaphor for the flu microbe. Anthony Powell in his novel Casanova’s Chinese Restaurant contrasts Don Juan, who “merely liked power” and “obviously did not know what sensuality was”, with Casanova, who “undoubtedly had his sensuous moments”.
The mother complex is a potentially active component of everyone's psyche, informed first of all by experience of the personal mother, then by significant contact with other women and by collective assumptions. The constellation of a mother complex has differing effects according to whether it appears in a son or a daughter.
Typical effects on the son are homosexuality and Don Juanism, and sometimes also impotence [though here the father complex also plays a part]. In homosexuality, the son's entire heterosexuality is tied to the mother in an unconscious form; in Don Juanism, he unconsciously seeks his mother in every woman he meets.[Psychological Aspects of the Mother Archetype," CW 9i, par. 162.]
A man's mother complex is influenced by the contrasexual complex, the anima. To the extent that a man establishes a good relationship with his inner woman (instead of being possessed by her), even a negative mother complex may have positive effects.
[He] may have a finely differentiated Eros instead of, or in addition to, homosexuality. . . . This gives him a great capacity for friendship, which often creates ties of astonishing tenderness between men and may even rescue friendship between the sexes from the limbo of the impossible. . . .In the same way, what in its negative aspect is Don Juanism can appear positively as bold and resolute manliness; ambitious striving after the highest goals; opposition to all stupidity, narrow-mindedness, injustice, and laziness; willingness to make sacrifices for what is regarded as right, sometimes bordering on heroism; perseverance, inflexibility and toughness of will; a curiosity that does not shrink even from the riddles of the universe; and finally, a revolutionary spirit which strives to put a new face upon the world.[Ibid., pars 164f.]
Complex derives from constant personal frustrations incurred in intimate relations with women. Sad love story with a broken-heart-end or sexual traumatic experience might also be in the roots of this masculine complex. Complex`s manifestations vary from case to case, whereas, common aspects are the following:
Psychological perception of a woman as a source of pleasure;
Ignorance about women;
Easy-going and superficial attitude towards all women;
Tendency to change the intimate partners frequently, without concentration on someone in particular;
Dramatization of the relations with women, i.e. leaving without saying ‘good-bye’ etc.;
Habit to live at woman`s cost;
Incapacity to love a woman truly and to build a long-term stable relation.
Such people are not capable of raising a family. However, if this person aims at changing his life, psychoanalysis and personal-relations therapy shall be applied.
A superiority complex is a defense mechanism that develops over time to help a person cope with painful feelings of inferiority. Individuals with this complex typically come across as supercilious, haughty, and disdainful toward others. They may treat others in an imperious, overbearing, and even aggressive manner.
In everyday usage, the term “superiority complex” is used to refer to an overly high opinion of oneself.
“According to Adler, people with a superiority complex often deploy “safeguarding tendencies”—maneuvers for protecting their underlying fragile sense of self. These safeguarding tendencies commonly include aggression, which, according to Adler, tends to manifest through “depreciation,” undervaluing others’ achievements and overvaluing one’s own, and “accusation”—the tendency to blame others for one’s failures and to seek retribution.”
“Adler was doing all this theorizing about the superiority complex in the early 1930s. In the years since then, psychological science has come to widely recognize the need for power and domination as one of the basic motivations directing people’s personal and social lives. In particular, more recent empirical evidence has highlighted a link between the need for power and dominance, particularly in its heightened form (akin to Adler’s superiority complex) and various forms of destructive psychopathology.”
“Much of the empirical and theoretical work on power motivation has been pooling under the notion of ‘Dominance Behavioral System’ (DBS). According to an extensive review of this literature by Sheri Johnson of the University of California Berkeley and colleagues (2012), Dominance Behavioral System, “encompasses a series of biological, psychological, and behavioral components. These components serve the organism’s goal of control over social and material resources that are critical for survival and reproduction. The DBS motivates behavior, directs sensory processing, and ensures efficient, rapid learning of behaviors that increase the likelihood of attaining this goal.”
Of interest in the context of this discussion is that Johnson’s review finds that high DBS is strongly correlated with three types of psychopathology: Externalizing disorders, Narcissistic disorder, and Mania.
Externalizing disorders are a group of disorders characterized by disruptive behavior; chief among them are antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy. Antisocial personality disorder is defined by, “persistent and pervasive disregard for, or violation of, the rights of others.” Psychopathy closely overlaps with antisocial personality, but tends to relate more to internal states; it typically includes “emotional traits (e.g., a lack of shame, guilt, or remorse), interpersonal traits (an absence of empathy, an egocentric perspective), and behaviors reflecting poor self-control (e.g., impulsive behavior, difficulty maintaining employment, and financial debt).”
Narcissism is characterized by “a set of stable traits that interfere with functioning, including an exaggerated sense of self-importance, fantasies of unlimited success and power, beliefs that one is special, excessive need for admiration, proneness to envy, contemptuous attitudes and behavior toward others, entitlement, exploitive behavior, lack of empathy, beliefs that others are envious of oneself, and arrogance.”
Mania is characterized by periods of “distinctly euphoric or irritable mood, accompanied by other symptoms, such as being overly confident, requiring less sleep, increased talking, racing thoughts, and engagement in rewarding activities without regard for the negative consequences (e.g., risky sexual activity, excessive spending, and other disinhibited behaviors).”
Carl Jung on Superiority and Inferiority Complexes
“To become one of the few who exists in a state of harmony and who can state with confidence “As I am, so I act” we must be willing to look within, to shine a light on the darkness of our unconscious and to integrate what we discover into conscious awareness. Jung places so much emphasis on the power of the unconscious to transform who we are due to the fact that it is the far larger realm of our total psyche. What we are aware of, or what exists in the field of our consciousness, is only ever a sliver of our total personality. We repress much about who we are, forget even more, and there even exist, according to Jung, potentialities and instinctual energies of which we may spend our entire life in total ignorance.”
“But even if we accept that the unconscious contains much that could be integrated into our character is there not a good reason why these things are unconscious in the first place? Is it not better to allow some elements of our personality to reside outside of our awareness?Jung answers this question with an emphatic noand for the simple reason that the elements of our unconscious continue to influence us even though we are unaware of their existence. The main difference, in other words, between a psychic element that we are aware of and one that is unconscious, is that what exists in consciousness can potentially be controlled, while what exists in the unconscious has an autonomous existence and therefore will often produce effects inimical to our well-being:
“The rejection of the unconscious usually has unfortunate results. . . The more negative the attitude of the conscious towards the unconscious, the more dangerous does the latter become.” — Carl Jung, Symbols of Transformation
“A further reason for becoming more self-aware, is because the unconscious is not only home to elements of our character which conflict with our self-image and elicit shame, such as our character faults and weaknesses, but it also contains much of what is best about us.This is especially true in the modern day, where we tend to rely too much on our social role, or what Jung called the persona, in the building up of our character. In so doing we make…
“. . .a formidable concession to the external world, a genuine self-sacrifice which drives the ego straight into identification with the persona, so that people really do exist who believe they are what they pretend to be.”
Carl Jung, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology
“Our persona should never define us, it should merely be a role we play at appropriate times. For when come to believe we are the masks we wear we will have sacrificed all the good of our character that does not align with the trends of conformity upon which our persona was sculpted. Our true “self retires into the background and gives place to social recognition” (Carl Jung) and we become a mirror of what we think others want us to be. This all comes with a sharp price to pay, for too much is left in the dark, too much of our character is denied and a divided self is created.
“A man cannot get rid of himself in favour of an artificial personality without punishment,” wrote Jung. “Even the attempt to do so brings on, in all ordinary cases, unconscious reactions in the form of bad moods, affects, phobias, obsessive ideas, backslidings, vices, etc. The social “strongman” is in his private life often a mere child where his own states of feeling are concerned; his discipline in public (which he demands quite particularly of others) goes miserably to pieces in private.”
Carl Jung, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology
“To cultivate a great character, we must be one of the few who heals the internal division that arises from too strong an identification with our social role. We need to accept that our persona represents only part of our total character and it must become our imperative duty to strip away our social mask and to learn what lies beneath. To achieve this task Jung suggests that we start by adopting a more collective view of who we are. Our gaze should turn outward and we should observe and take note of the character traits of those around us. This advice may seem paradoxical, as our persona is formed primarily through the observation and imitation of other people. But the point of this exercise is to learn about what resides behind the masks of our peers and to expose ourselves to the elements that occupy their unconscious. For it is far easier to look beyond the persona of another person, to notice the discrepancies in their behaviour, the cracks in their armour, so to speak, than it is to recognize these same elements within ourselves. Furthermore, due to the tendency to project unconscious traits of our character on to those around us this exercise will also bring us into contact with these projected elements.”
The number of complexes are probably as many as the number of people alive. The Analytical Psychology on Complexes blog lists many more ranging from Messianic/Redeemer Complex to Complex of an Excellent Student and Complex of Non-Love to Oneself or Complex of Loneliness. Indeed, we may create new complexes with every new generation of human born given the stresses of our modern life. Here are the ten most common psychological complexes:
Inferiority Complex (see above — added 12/27/20)
Superiority Complex (see above — added 12/27/20)
Don Juan Complex
All we can do is pay attention and hope we can make our way back to the beautiful being who lives inside all of us and is a witness and force of transformation to whatever constellation of complexes and archetypes we have inherited or created in our journey through life.
In my previous blog, I explored ideas about wholeness, consciousness, division, thought traps, and the dangers of dragons and vortexes we create through personal and collective bits of unconsciousness that accumulate in our psyches over time. My ideas were inspired by a piece my friend Jürgen Hornschuh wrote as part of his Yurugu Series, specifically #2: How to identify imperialistic thought. As I wrestled with my divergent ideas, I blended the thinking of Carl Jung, Dalai Lama, David Bohm, J.M. Berger, Aqua Man, and others who are speaking to the challenges of our time. To be honest, I had not read any of Jürgen’s other pieces in his series until after completing the Yurugu Mirror. One exception is I read Fingerprints on water, which is an elegant and deeply enduring piece. Now, I am reading all Jürgen’s posts in his Yurugu Series as well as two other writings that two other friends recommended I read after they read my Yurugu Mirror piece.
As I read and digest new ideas, my thinking-word consciousness is taking a break. However, my art-vision consciousness remains busy. Below are two short videos created from art emerging from dreams and visions from my work on the Yurugu Mirror piece.
The image for this piece, Flying, comes from a fragment of a dream that is obviously speaking to the section on vortexes in the Yurugu Mirror. Putting words to what I have drawn immediately diminishes it, as Western thinking usually does. Thus, it is best to refer you to the vortex section in A Yurugu Mirror and the Role of Consciousness Warriors and watch the video, then draw your own conclusions. I will simply say I believe it broadly speaks to our unconsciousness and how we might impact and affect each other with unexamined (or unintegrated) personal and collective pieces of unconsciousness that glob together in our psyches over time. At least in my experience, it can create a dead weight that can keep a person stuck in the lower realms of conscious existence. But, remaining here becomes toxic over time, and especially so when we compete for psychic recognition and space in our shared reality. The evolution of the images in the video hints at the possibility that what we see and can measure with our physical senses is limited, and there is something far vaster and more beautiful beyond what we can see, hear, touch, and smell. This something is a divine mystery–that is the final image of the video, which I find deeply comforting.
This piece, It Came From Inside, explores the lost inner landscapes existing inside every human being. In the Yurugu Mirror, I write throughout how our inner landscapes are disappearing. The originating image for this drawing was a crumpled skyscraper in a devastated city. I was not up to drawing an entire city, so I settled on a partly destroyed skyscraper in a dried up, barren landscape. On a ridge stands the beautiful being inside who witnesses this devastation in sadness. This is how the drawing begins, but then something miraculous unfolds as a new landscape appears in parallel with the first. This one is whole and beautiful and alive. The video documents the journey between the two evolving inner landscapes as they mature through time. Again, to describe the images with words diminishes them. It is best to simply watch the story told through art and music and draw your own conclusions based on your own journey through time and awareness of (or lack of awareness of) your inner landscape.
From the very beginning of drawing this series, I knew the title was It Came From Inside, which hints at the possibility we may be destroying our shared reality (Earth) by destroying our inner landscapes first. We destroy them by forgetting they are there, forgetting how to get there, forgetting how these spaces nourish and guide us throughout our lives. As more and more of us lose access to our inner worlds, our outer world reflects this lost reality. The song came to my mind just before I started working on the video. I knew I could condense 40 minutes of video to fit the length of the song They Move of Tracks of Never-ending Light (and this 40 minutes condenses hours and hours of drawing time). I had not listened to this song in over a year, but I knew it was the right one to tell the story of this journey. The name of the group This Will Destroy You is also perfect in every way for when we become aware of things inside ourselves or about the pain and struggle of others, we inherit a responsibility that is measured by what we do or do not do with what we know. This burden of knowledge might be a huge reason why so many of us choose to live unconscious lives—it is easier if we do not see the pain inside ourselves or in others, and if we don’t see it, then we don’t have to do anything to comfort ourselves or those around us. To heal is painful, so most of us just live with a wound inside that never heals. One may wonder where the medicine men and women, shamans, and seers have gone. They are the ones who have always been there to help us heal from these deep internal wounds. They have guided people and tribes going through crisis, change, and transformation from the very beginning of our emergence into conscious beings. Today, they exist as musicians and artists—and of course indigenous people all over the world who never lost this capacity. These are the people of our time who voyage into the deepest realms inside the human psyche (and collective soul). They are the ones who bring back glimpses of the treasures and dangers residing deep inside every human being. They are the ones who can get to the bedrock of human consciousness, which is the primeval place where we first emerged from the deep and restless Sea of Unconsciousness. This is where we are barely standing Now, or maybe we are crawling on our bellies too weak to even venture beyond this point of emergence in our unstable, fragile consciousness of today.
When our inner landscapes crumble, disappear, and sink back into our unconsciousness, they become lost to us, leaving us weak, indecisive, confused, and trapped. Compounding this, the more we forget who we really are, the more we cast these forgotten parts of ourselves onto our family, friends, neighbors, and world. These cast-off parts become the “other” who we then give ourselves permission to demonize for whatever it is inside ourselves we lost. This is dangerous… really dangerous… and we have been here before 100 and 75 years ago. We are here again, except this time, in addition to rising waves of war, hunger, and hate, we teeter on the edge of climate catastrophe. I don’t know, but I feel unless we find a way to heal inside….what we see rising today is our future. If we can find a way back to our lost inner places, we can get back to the lost wisdom and knowledge needed to make different choices. This is where the strength can be found needed to be Consciousness Warriors. It is here where we find nourishment that feeds our appetite for life. It is here we are empowered to be a force for good in the world. There is no collective way inside to our inner spaces. This is an individual journey. Each person must find their own way based on their own challenges, circumstances, and pain. I don’t see one great transformation on the horizon that happens in one fell swoop of conscious light that suddenly can be seen by billions. I see it as a courageous journey that must be taken individually. But perhaps it is one that can be encouraged, supported, and helped like comrades who are on a great and perilous journey who support, comfort, and aide each other so they can all make it eventually. If we can do this, then we might have a chance.
I love what Jürgen writes in Fingerprints on water:
“Owning less goes straight against the paradigm of separation; consuming less is incompatible with the locust culture currently ruling the whole planet; and doing less, to me, is the confession that the complexity of the world is way beyond my understanding. I just don’t know what is good for everybody. I hardly know what is good for me. I’ve got an intuition, and I follow it. I don’t know where this ends, but it feels good to trust that feeling, and I do not suffer from less stuff. There is no sacrifice, no loss, no self-denial. It’s rather the opposite – every gadget, every insurance, every untruthful relationship, every idea, every activity that fell away provided space and time for something much more valuable: the essence of it all, the unadulterated sensation of living, the meaning of being alive. Not that I got that to the fullest; as already shared, I still own things, thoughts, personae. Life is becoming more and more interesting though.”
This movement away from everything we have been told to value feels right to me. It feels like moving away from the thinking that has taken us to the great chasm of our time—the chasm that exists inside each of us.
Three things I read within 24 hours of finishing the above suggests a precedence for achieving this elusive inner transformation. They are:
My former philosophy professor John Visvader wrote a piece entitled Reflections on a Chinese Garden where he talks about the differences between Chinese/Eastern thinking and the philosophy of the West. He uses the story of the Garden of Eden to highlight differences in Chinese and Western thinking saying:
“From a Chinese point of view, Adam and Eve turned a garden into a wilderness or wild place by imagining themselves to be superior to the garden, by trying to be equal to the creator of the garden. The moral knowledge they gained told them that gods and humans were qualitatively different from and superior to the world of nature. Thus, they narrowed the realm of obligatory behavior and chose to be associated with gods rather than gardens…”
John Visvader, Reflections on a Chinese Garden
This he suggests created a division in the wholeness that governs our natural world, which we are apart (we really never left… only our thinking did). This is what created the disharmony and incoherence we see today. He ends saying:
“…and our search for our own broken wholeness has made us search out paths long forgotten and lead us to believe that something like the Chinese view of human nature must be true. We have also learned in stark pragmatic terms that we are living in a smaller and more interconnected world than we might have imagined. The idea of wilderness has become a metaphor for that other metaphor of the self-so, the garden. Many of us find that we need to have a place where nature can be itself so that on some fundamental level we can also be ourselves. (…) If we find important healing in wilderness and its preservation we must recommend it to others, but the “correct behavior” which we sense and may try and spell out in terms of ethical or moral principles cannot easily convert those whose sense of self is constituted differently.”
In a lecture to his peers (Analytical Psychology Its Theory & Practice), Carl Jung describes the deeper levels of knowing needed to understand the workings of the unconsciousness and to diagnosis the troubles it can cause when critical parts inside of our psyche fail to be integrated or transformed by consciousness (the engine that strives to achieve inner wholeness). He talks about the learning and understanding developed in the far East saying:
“… We Europeans are not the only people on the earth. We are a peninsula of Asia, and on that continent there areold civilizationswhere people have trained their minds inintrospective psychology for thousands of years,whereas we began with our psychology not even yesterday but only this morning. These people have an insight that is simply fabulous, and I had to study Eastern things to understand certain facts of the unconscious. I had to go back to understand Oriental symbolism.”
Carl Jung, Analytical Psychology Its Theory & Practice (p. 74)
A little later, he describes the concept of Tao to his peers saying:
“… Tao can be anything. (…) I call it synchronicity. The Eastern mind, when it looks at an ensemble of facts, accepts that ensemble as it is, but the Western mind divides it into entities, small quantitates. (…) The Eastern mind is not at all interested in that. The Chinese mind asks: ‘What does it mean that these things [these people] are together?’ The Chinese mind experiments with that being together and coming together at the right moment. (…) It has a method of forecasting possibilities, and it is still used by the Japanese Government about political situations; it was used in the Great War. This method was formulated in 1143 B.C.”
Carl Jung, Analytical Psychology Its Theory & Practice (p.76-77) [Note: This method is the I Ching or Book of Changes]
In a book about the I Ching (i.e., The Philosophy of the I Ching), Carol K. Anthony writes:
“What we learn through the I Ching is a substratum of universal truth that underlies all major religions and philosophies of life. As these universal truths emerge in our learning, we understand the relationships that these truths have to philosophies and religions. By contrast to them, however, the I Ching way is to live in an unstructured manner, free of precepts and rules. Just as we constantly interact with the changing environment as we canoe down a river, so we learn, through the I Ching, to interact with our continuously changing lives. With the I Ching as guide, we learn our natural limitations; as we apply our knowledge, we gain experience; we avoid rocks and underwater objects; we find the channel; we learn when to paddle hard and when to rest, when to get out of the water and portage around dangerous falls. We start with the stream when it is small, at a time when our errors are less serious; then, down river, we are able to face the larger challenges. We are never totally secure; we can never plot what we are going to do more than a few feet ahead. This means we continuously adapt to the conditions as they show themselves. In finding that our abilities are up to the challenges, we develop the courage to take the risks that are always involved in a continuous learning process. Although we have a master guide in the Sage who speaks through the I Ching, who knows what lies ahead, throughout the trip we are only helped to develop our skills. It is we who make the trip, who do the paddling, who take the risks, and who, in the end, become our own masters.”
Carol K. Anthony,The Philosophy of the I Ching (Introduction, p. x)
I have written much about the Fayu tribe who live in New Guinea and remained mostly unknown to the modern world until the early 70s. What was known about them was they were fierce and did not like intruders. In this series, I explored some of their noble qualities as a people untouched by Western Civilization until recently as well as some of their not so noble ones as remembered by Sabine Kuegler in a memoir about her experience growing up as a child among this tribe. Specifically, I explored the idea of how their warrior spirit became lopsided, overpowering and submerging their kinder, more compassionate spirit.
As I wrote this series, my friend Jürgen Hornschuh was writing the Yurugu Series. In his series, he explains Yurugu is an African-centered critique of European culture’s thought and behavior. I found his series compelling for just as the Fayu could not see their lopsidedness until the family from Germany came to live with them, so too we who live immersed in Western culture are mostly blind to the thinking, patterns, and cultural narratives that define our cultural realities. Thus, it is helpful to have tools (such as a Yurugu Mirror) to help us see ourselves and our situation more clearly.
As there is precious little time to prance around whether Climate Change is a thing or not… it is a thing… a big thing happening faster and more devastating than scientists have been predicating for more than 30 years (see Bill McKibben’s book below). It is caused by us—by our burning fossil fuels, engaging in massive agricultural practices, and polluting water systems and the land, not to mention how we claim more and more livable habitat for ourselves, denying other creatures the space they need to live. We have become in a very short period of time an extremely narcissistic lopsided creature.
Given the moment we are in now, I’m just diving into what I hope to accomplish in this piece, which is to highlight the struggle we face today (consciousness), how we might get out of it (balance), and the role of Consciousness Warriors (coaches*). Playing off parts in Jürgen’s piece, I have organized this blog into the following sections: What is a Consciousness Warrior, The Weapon, The Vortex, The Struggle, and The End. Jürgen’s article stands on its own and is worth your time and attention for he succinctly and clearly lays out a compelling idea. I am deeply grateful for his work. My thoughts and ideas are simply mine, which Jürgen may or may not agree. Here is Jürgen’s piece in its entirety: Mach was!? (Do something!?)
* As I wrote this section and searched for a word to help ground the reader in what I mean by a Consciousness Warrior, the 20thAnniversary of the Columbine school shooting took place. In remembering the beautiful souls lost and all the survivors who continue to struggle from this terrible moment, I heard the story about coach Dave Sanders. He coached the girls basketball team, was a husband and a father, and beloved by his whole community. By his daughter’s account, he was an ordinary, gentle man, but his heart was extraordinary for when the shots rang out, he raced towards the gun fire telling students to leave. He cleared much of the cafeteria and was racing to the library when he encountered the boys. One of the students he coached said his style was “quiet thunder.” This is what a Consciousness Warrior is…an ordinary person doing ordinary things to help others, but someone who will run into the vortex of a crisis because that’s what they do help others.
What is a Consciousness Warrior?
A Consciousness Warrior can be anybody for all of us hold a tiny patch of consciousness inside our bodies and minds. The trick is taming it and training it. For gardeners, it is like cultivating a beautiful, nourishing garden. So, how do we go about taming or cultivating our patch of consciousness?
The most important tools that Consciousness Warriors have is time and attention. Where we place our attention, our time flows. Where we spend our time, our reality grows. Time and attention build the landscapes of our inner world. These are the places where our private thoughts, dreams, visions, and nightmares trickle, run, and roar like quite streams or raging rivers. From these place grow our thoughts, which weave the stories we tell about ourselves and the world (e.g., “when I do this, this happens…”). From our stories rise our choices and actions. And this my friend is how our inner worlds are woven into the world we share together—both actions and non-actions that mix, blend, and collide with all the other beings making choices and taking actions to create our Sea of Reality. To change our shared reality, we must begin by transforming our inner landscape and this means working our personal plot of consciousness (i.e., taming or cultivating it). The trouble is, most of us get lost or blown off course by great gusts of wind or tsunamis size waves that come from the unconsciousness, which also resides inside of us.
Consciousness Warriors pay attention to their inner and outer worlds, and they do the work to tame their minds (or tend them like gardens). They have learned how to navigate and prepare for the storms blowing up from the unconsciousness. And, they know every person is infinitely more powerful than we think we are or have been led to believe we are. This is because all of us has emerged from the Sea of Unconsciousness. There are many routes out of this sea as evidenced by the beautiful diversity of people and cultures on Earth. However, today most of us have been assimilated into the monolithic culture we call Western Civilization. Supposedly this is our shining achievement as human beings—but something has clearly gone wrong.
For one thing, Western Civilization places a god-like reverence for what we can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch (an extrovert’s delight!). Out of this has grown our civilization’s great love for classifying, dividing, and measuring things, especially things that can be turned into money. This is really fun! However, our intense focus on dividing, measuring, and making money comes at price, and that is our inner worlds. They are drying up, becoming terribly shallow, even turning into vast deserts due to lack of time and attention directed inward. To lead a good life requires a delicate balance between these two realms of reality. But this is where we have taken a wrong turn by directing all of our time and attention to the external world and all the fun things we can do, if only we have enough money. The more time and attention we put into doing things in the world, the more we become attached to these things and our doings. This makes us psychologically dependent on our external reality, leaving our inner reality to wilt away.
I talk a great deal about this predicament in previous blogs (e.g., The Collective Unconsciousness and the Oversoul), so I will not do so here, except to resurrect an excerpt to provide footing for this strange terrain. It comes from Carl Jung in his book The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Here he describes the collective unconsciousness and how it impacts us. His ideas were considered strange during his life, and mostly remain strange today. This is because we have continued to forget and lose words to describe our inner realities—like a person being overcome with Alzheimer’s Disease. Beginning on page 21, Jung writes:
“The necessary and needful reaction from the collective unconscious expresses itself in archetypally formed ideas. The meeting with oneself is, at first, the meeting with one’s shadow. The shadow is a tight passage, a narrow door, whose painful constriction no one is spared who goes down to the deep well. But one must learn to know oneself in order to know who one is. For what comes after the door is, surprisingly enough, a boundless expanse full of unprecedented uncertainty, with apparently no inside and no outside, no above and no below, no here and no there, no mine and no thine, no good and no bad. It is the world of water, where all life floats in suspension; where the realm of the sympathetic system, the soul of everything living, begins; where I am indivisibly this and that; where I experience the other in myself and the other-than-myself experiences me.
No, the collective unconscious is anything but an incapsulated personal system; it is sheer objectivity, as wide as the world and open to all the world. There I am the object of every subject, in complete reversal of my ordinary consciousness, where I am always the subject that has an object. There I am utterly one with the world, so much a part of it that I forget all too easily who I really am. ‘Lost in oneself’ is a good way of describing this state. But this self is the world, if only a consciousness could see it. That is why we must know who we are.
The unconscious no sooner touches us than we are it—we become unconscious of ourselves. That is the age-old danger, instinctively known and feared by primitive man, who himself stands so very close to this pleroma. His consciousness is still uncertain, wobbling on its feet. It is still childish, having just emerged from the primal waters. A wave of the unconscious may easily roll over it, and then he forgets who he was and does thing that are strange to him. Hence primitives are afraid of uncontrolled emotions, because consciousness breaks down under them and gives way to possession. All man’s strivings have therefore been directed towards the consolidation of consciousness. This was the purpose of rite and dogma; they were dams and walls to keep back the dangers of the unconscious, the ‘perils of the soul.’ Primitive rites consist accordingly in the exorcizing of spirits, the lifting of spells, the averting of the evil omen, propitiation, purification, and the production by sympathetic magic of helpful occurrences.”
— C.G. Jung
Jung goes on to explain how psychological barriers were erected in primitive times to keep us safe from the unpredictable and sometimes destructive forces rising from the unconsciousness—much like storms that pass over the land or earthquake that strikes out of nowhere. Our ancestors knew about these events. They knew by coming together they could strengthened the barriers they had created. They performed collective rites and rituals using music, dance, and elaborate enactments that harmonized and united them as a people–a tribe. Later, many of these rites and rituals were incorporated into many religions. The one I am following here is the Christian Church and how many ancient, pagan rites and rituals morphed into its religious doctrines and dogma, which were incorporated into basic tenets of Western Civilization. It is my deep feeling during one of these transfers, a separation from our unconsciousness occurred that was too rapid and too violent—leaving us wounded like a Motherless Child. Despite this wound, the barriers held for centuries (though often brutally) keeping Western Civilization mostly safe from incursions from the unconsciousness. However, as Western Civilization has grown, the barriers have weaken considerably and are sinking back into the unconsciousness, crumbling as they succumb to the tremendous weight of our monolith civilization.
The destruction of the edifices constructed long ago to keep us safe from our unconscious origins is putting us in terrible peril. Just like the Fayu, Western Civilization has become lopsided as it warps under its own weight. When a culture, tribe, or civilization becomes lopsided, dangerous perversions of consciousness can occur that place all individuals living in a lopsided culture at much greater risk for incursions from the unconsciousness—perils of the soul. Our ancestors understood this, but we have forgotten it. Our inability to take collective action on Climate Change is just one symptom of this malady… other symptoms are resurgences of all sorts of crueler ways of thinking and being creeping back into our collective psyche.
Listen or read the interview with E.B. Berger on Fresh Air who says the New Zealand Massacre Points To A Global Resurgence Of ‘Extremism’. Berger has studied the online activity of extremists, and he notes the New Zealand shooter praised President Trump as “as a symbol of renewed white identity” in his 74-page document published before the massacre. Berger says it aligns with a trend he has found studying the hashtags and language used by alt-right Twitter users.
This is where Consciousness Warriors come in as protectors of the people. Consciousness Warriors are ordinary people who have been driven deeper into themselves as they attempted to avoid the inevitable wounding inflicted by people blinded by our systems and their own unconsciousness.
My own awareness of Consciousness Warriors rose due to such a situation when I was fired for being with father when he died. Just before this happened, I had a vision of a girl trapped in the jaws of a dragon. It made me laugh, so I drew it and shared it on Facebook. I wrote a simple story to go with it I called Girl With Dragon. It turned into 20 episodes. I didn’t think much of it, neither did most of my friend who joked about it and some scoffed. I took it all in stride for I was amused by it too until my world was turned upside down and inside out. Then, I understood what the image and story was telling me. The girl was caught in the dragon’s jaws. The dragon was the girl’s unconscious choices mixed together with the unconsciousness of those around her, creating the dragon. We create dragons every day. Some are easy to tame, while others turn into desperate problems with no apparent escape. The girl was the first Consciousness Warrior to emerge in my psychology. As I continued the story with The Divine Dodo, more Consciousness Warriors emerged.
I called them this not knowing other people were writing about and talking about them. I thought I was the only one talking about Consciousness Warriors until I watch a video where Margaret Wheatley was speaking to a group about her book and work WARRIORS FOR THE HUMAN SPIRIT: Training to be the Presence of Insight and Compassion. Then, I read Jürgen’s piece where he writes about even more people who are writing and talking about Consciousness Warriors. So, this is how I have come to know and understand Consciousness Warriors. I am still learning, but I am pretty certain Western Civilization is in desperate need of them Now. Using Jürgen’s Yurugu Series as a mirror, I intend to describe a part of our collective predicament for it is multifaceted problem. Perhaps by figuring out how to make one scale on the dragon disappear, we can figure out how to make the whole dragon disappear. As I go, I will blend the thinking of Carl Jung, Dalai Lama, David Bohm, J.M. Berger, Aqua Man, and others to attempt to see this scale clearly and the role of Consciousness Warriors in making it disappear.
Are you ready?
Ready, Set, Go
The Weapon: Jürgen writes: The answer could be something like this: look out for the imperialist mindset.
This insight is extremely important for it is mindsets and thinking styles like the Imperialist Mindset that have been used to divide and define our reality into its many parts. I suppose our world is less fearsome when it is neatly divided into categories that can be counted, organized, and neatly stored into many different professions and areas of expertise—essentially turning Earth into a museum. Meanwhile the things we cannot physically see, hear, touch, smell, and taste (such as our inner realities) steadily disappear. In doing this, we literally reduce reality.
But, why should we be concerned about the invisible world disappearing? Because these places are essential to transform of ourselves. They are needed to grow as individuals, to grow consciously, and to become what we are truly meant to be. Without them, we get stuck in a stage of arrested development. As awareness of our inner spaces slip back over the edge into the unconscious, it becomes invisible and unavailable to us. We lose abilities needed to be fully conscious beings. The bigger Western Civilization grows, the more lopsided its thinking has become and the deeper the blade this type of thinking cuts away at our inner spaces, creating deep wounds that never heal. Slavery, domination of indigenous people worldwide, the Holocaust/ethnic cleansing, racism…and Now the rise of White Supremacy 75 years after it almost tore the world apart are some of the terrible impacts this thinking has inflicted on our shared reality. There are internal wounds as well. Climate Change is like a fever caused by the raging infection that has settled into these wounds.
To understand the Imperialist Mindset, we must get closer to the unconsciousness for this is where this tool was forged. Let’s start with Aqua Man:
Aqua Man is a modern myth. A myth’s primary function (other than telling a good story) is to convey how archetypal energies affect us. In his origin story, a tool is forged long ago by a ruler of an ancient, advanced civilization. The ruler attempts to use the tool to harness the powers of Earth, but something goes wrong, and the tool unleashes devastation causing the city (Atlantis) to sink.
To begin to grasp the archetypal meaning and energy of this story, replace the sea with the unconsciousness. Thus, the people of this ancient civilization sink back into the primordial Sea of Unconsciousness where the survivors learn how to breath underwater and see in the dark. Some evolve into the advanced beings, of which Aqua Man is one. Others devolved becoming half-fish half-man beings, crustacean beings, and the feared trench beings who live in the deepest trenches of this underworld. It is into the trench Aqua Man’s mother is thrown for breaking the laws of her people by falling in love with a human and giving birth to a half-breed—Aqua Man. Of course, the two worlds become tangled in a deadly conflict that forces Aqua Man to go fetch this lost and mighty tool that destroyed Atlantis. In the wrong hands the trident (the tool) will destroy both worlds (the weapon). In the right hands, it will unite the worlds.
— Bébé’s interpretation of Aqua Man
David Bohm (quantum physicists) expresses a similar idea in a video entitled Wholeness and Fragmentation when he speaks about our dominate way of thinking. He says:
“All thought is broken up into bits like this nation, this country, this industry, this profession, and so on.” (00:43 of video) “Therefore, people cannot see they are creating a problem, and then apparently trying to solve it. Let’s take a problem like pollution or the ecology—the ecology is not in by itself [the problem], it is due to us, right? It’s a problem because we are thinking in certain way by breaking everything up [and] in each person’s doing his own thing now.” (1:03 of video) “The ecological problem is due to thought [because] thought thinks [there] is a problem out there, and I must solve it. Now that doesn’t make sense because simultaneously thought is doing all the activities [that] make the problem, and then there’s another set of activities trying to overcome [the problem]. You see, it doesn’t stop doing the things [that] are making the ecological problem or the national problem or whatever [problem we have created].”
To me, the most important part of his comments are when he says:
“I don’t think there is such thing as original sin. I think it developed more and more with the growth of our society [for] there is no evidence people in the hunter-gatherer society were all that competitive. [However,] the more you made society big and had organization, [the more people] had to get to the top [and thus there would be] people on the bottom [who] would suffer. [Because of this] there was a drive to compete, naturally. And, do you think that perhaps the desire to compete is a weakness? [No, it is] not a weakness that was a mistake!”
This idea of a Thought Mistake is critical to understand for as humans immersed in Western Civilization, we do not think our thinking has caused any problems. We think instead it is our savior, but what if it is not?
Jung thought a great deal about how man has come to reckon with his consciousness. He says:
“…for in certain respects the animal is superior to man. It has not yet blundered into consciousness nor pitted a self-willed ego against the power from which it lives; on the contrary, it fulfils the will that actuates it in a well-nigh perfect manner. Were it conscious, it would be morally better than man. There is deep doctrine in the legend of the fall: it is the expression of a dim presentiment that the emancipation of ego-consciousness was a Luciferian deed. Man’s whole history consists from the very beginning in conflict between his feeling of inferiority and his arrogance. Wisdom seeks the middle path and pays for audacity by a dubious affinity with daemon and beast, and so is open to moral misinterpretation.”
— Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, p. 230
What David Bohm says begs us to consider exactly what is thought. This is another idea Jung explored throughout his career—the acquisition of thought. He says something extraordinary here:
“Thoughts were objects of inner perception, not thought at all, but sensed as external phenomena—seen or heard, so to speak. Thought was essentially revelation, not invented but forced upon us… bringing conviction through its immediacy and actuality. Thinking of this kind precedes the primitive ego-consciousness, and the latter is more its object than its subject. But, we ourselves have not yet climbed the last peak of consciousness, so we also have a pre-existent thinking, of which we are not aware so long as we are supported by traditional symbols—or, to put it in the language of dreams, so long as the father or the king is not dead.”
— Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, p. 33
Thus, the timeless phrase—I think therefore I am—may not have been as easy for us to achieve as we think it was. Clearly our ability to think inside our head is a supreme achievement. It is an ability that was hard fought and a struggle to maintain. It was so precious that humans all over the world created elaborate rituals and rites to protect it, this power, this tool that has allowed us to create and do incredible things (e.g., science, technology, art, architecture). But, it is one capable of terrible destruction as well. Every civilization understood this. They knew there is good and bad in everything and everyone. They understood the essential act is balance. Our ancestors understood this, we have forgotten it.
Jung writes: “The unity of our psychic nature lies in the middle, just as the living unity of the waterfall appears in the dynamic connection between above and below. Thus, the living effect of the myth is experienced when a higher consciousness, rejoicing in its freedom and independence, is confronted by the autonomy of a mythological figure and yet cannot flee from its fascination, but must pay tribute to the overwhelming impression. The figure works, because secretly it participates in the observer’s psyche and appears as its reflection, though it is not recognized as such. It is split off from his consciousness and consequently behaves like an autonomous personality (i.e., the trickster).”
— Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, p. 269
The Imperialist Mindset does not care about balance; it thrives on imbalance. It does not care about justice, fairness, or truth for it grows stronger in the midst of chaos and confusion. Over time, this mindset has placed an obsessive focus on dividing things into smaller and smaller pieces, going a bit wild, even rogue. It is this focus that has placed us squarely in the jaws of a dangerous dragon. One created by our thinking, and one that has become so rigid and lopsided for the moment we are in Now, there seems no escape.
For a spectacular description of how the Imperialist Mindset and similar thinking was used to put us squarely in the jaws of the Climate Change dragon, listen to the Fresh Air interview with Nathaniel Rich who talks about his book Losing Earth: A recent interview on FreshAir. In it he documents how thinking like this was used like a weapon by the fossil fuel industry to sow divisions in the Climate Change debate. By doing this, they successfully turned scientific debate and processes into polarizing Thought Wars (i.e., on one side people believe we are causing the 6th Mass Extinction; on the other side people play upon uncertainty, “We’re not really sure how bad it might be, so we might as well keep the status quo as long as possible… no reason to wreck the economy over something that might or might not happen…”).
No matter what we think using this type of thought and similar mindsets, we will not get out of the dragon’s jaws. We need a different, deeper way of thinking—one that supersedes where we are Now. This is something the Dalia Lama speaks to when he says: “For a long time, science and spirituality were considered to be opposing views, creating this polarization of both subjects. You were either a “Man of God” or a “Man of Science,” with no middle ground. However, we’re now observing a merging of both science and spirituality through quantum physics and the study of consciousness, shattering old thought patterns and putting an end to the previous “tug of war” between the two subjects.”
“I think science has begun to replace religion as the major source of the worldview and therefore if science takes a fragmentary worldview it will have a profound effect on consciousness, but science has always seen as measurement is that no longer true. Science [is] whatever people make of it. You see science has changed over the ages, and it’s different now from a few hundred years ago. It could be different again [in a hundred years]. Now there’s no intrinsic reason why science must necessarily be measurement. This is another historical development, which has come about over the past few centuries.”
By continuing not to access our deeper nature, we lack the ability to understand the true nature of reality. Since Western Civilization is so good at producing men and women who deny their inner realities, we remain stuck. Jung writes about this modern quandary saying:
“The disastrous idea that everything comes to the human psyche from outside and that it (the human being) is born a tabula rasa is responsible for the erroneous belief that under normal circumstances the individual is in perfect order. He then looks to the State for salvation, and makes society pay for his inefficiency. He thinks the meaning of existence would be discovered if food and clothing were delivered to him gratis on his own doorstep, or if everybody possessed an automobile. Such are the puerilities that rise up in place of an unconscious shadow and keep it unconscious. As a result of these prejudices, the individual feels totally dependent on his environment and loses all capacity for introspection. In this way, his code of ethics is replaced by a knowledge of what is permitted or forbidden or ordered. How, under these circumstances, can one expect a soldier to subject an order received from a superior to ethical scrutiny? He has not yet made the discovery that he might be capable of spontaneous ethical impulses, and of performing them—even when on one is looking.”
— Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, p. 267
Jürgen also speaks to what is keeping us stuck when he says:
“European rationalistic ideology has “created” a particular kind of person who can be expected to behave in certain characteristic ways. If the uniqueness to the culture is not understood, the positive possibilities of other cultures will get lost, and, whether consciously or not, this is a thoroughly Eurocentric objective. For this reason, we assume the particularity of the European form and therefore the need to explain its development, not as the result of some “universal” process, but by understanding its asili [cultural core] – a unique combination of factors that in circular relationship generate the personalities and ideological commitments that form the influencing matrix.
This explanation is all the more compelling since Europeans represent an extreme minority culture. It is the realization that Europe is in fact a culture in which imperial domination of others does indeed become a “comprehensive world-view” that is important. This is unique in the world and the characteristics (themes) of European culture – its “rationalism,” violence, and lack of spirituality – are not merely isolated pathologies; rather these characteristics are linked to each other in a developmental matrix (asili) that is itself “pathological” in the context of human societies. (Marimba Ani: Yurugu. An African-centered critique of European cultural thought and behavior, 1994, p392).”
This asili is what keeps us trapped in the jaws of the dragon. It is the point we spin around as a civilization. A point created long ago in plain sight, but it has sunk below our conscious awareness, making it invisible and dangerous. Jürgen is right to say the asili is enforced by an extreme minority of people—that being European culture. I propose it is even smaller than European culture today. I believe using European culture with its royalty and dynasties as a template it has shrunk even more to what we call the 1%, which has pulled us into an even smaller orbit. These people are the royal ones of our time and culture. They have amassed much money and power. They are the ones our civilization has been carefully designed to keep in power. They guard it vigilantly—not as highly evolved, benevolent beings, but rather like rabid bull dogs. Most see their job as making sure the rest of us don’t escape the pull of the asili. They worry if enough of us escape, we might raise the orbit of the greater whole, making their world disappear, and it would.
Most modern elites are stricken with a hunger that can never be filled and a thirst that can never be quenched. This makes them capable of doing anything to keep their power such as whipping up chaos to make us feel like drowning fish when in reality we are fish swimming in waters too shallow. This is because they have been busy damning, redirecting, and draining the conscious streams we need to be human. They know united we are powerful. So, they prefer to narratives full of hate, division, and chaos to create confusion and fear. This is how the bull dogs keep us here (I have just used Imperialist thinking to divide rich from poor, thus myself falling back into the asili).
Since we no longer see the asili and do not believe it is there, we go about our days feeling completely in control of our thoughts and lives. Never noticing the pull it exerts constantly on our thoughts, our choices, our reality. It is always there. It is the Thought Trap of a most cunning design operating on quantum levels like a psychological-spiritual black hole that generates a gravity so fierce not even consciousness can escape it. Around its event horizon, chaotic forces polarize the pieces of consciousness so neatly divided by Imperialist thinking, making them slip ever faster into the center of this vortex.
Quantum physicist suggest vortices create the very structure of our universe literally holding galaxies together with their super massive gravity. The Dalia Lama adds:
“Quantum physicists discovered that physical atoms are made up of vortices of energy that are constantly spinning and vibrating, each one radiating its own unique energy signature. Therefore, if we really want to observe ourselves and find out what we are, we must recognize we are really beings of energy and vibration, radiating our own unique energy signature.”
Thus, vortexes may indeed be the glue holding reality together. The question to ask is the vortex around which Western Civilization spins viable? Or is it fated to destroy us all? It may sound counter intuitive, but to escape this cultural asili, we may need to disappear in inside the vortexes that exist inside us. They might just be worm holes that help us get to our deeper inner spaces faster. We need to get these places so we can rekindle our inner light of consciousness and resurrect the beautiful being waiting there to help us find our wholeness, really to remember it. This is where the energy waits that is needed to transform reality. This is work that must be done one person at a time, but if it starts, it can happen rapidly like fire. It may be the only way out of the dragon’s jaws.
David Bohm speaks about the importance of wholeness in getting out of the thought trap saying:
“It’s not a place you can get [to] the wholeness. I say [it] is a kind of attitude or an approach to the whole of life. It’s a way [that] if we can have a coherent approach to reality, then reality will respond [in a] coherent way to us. [N]ature has been tremendously affected by our way of thinking on the earth. (9:33) Nature is now being destroyed. There’s very little left on the earth [that hasn’t been] affected by how we were thinking. If we have coherence, in what way will our behavior seem to be different? [For one thing,] we won’t be produc[ing] the results we intend rather than the results we don’t intend. That’s the first big change, and then we will be more [capable of living in a] orderly harmonious [way]. You know, we will be happier. I think we could put all that in there man but the first. … (10:03) [Our] major source of unhappiness is we are incoherent and therefore produce results we don’t really want. [And then we try] to overcome them, [but] we keep on producing them. The question is what is the real origin of consciousness exactly in case where did it come from (10:20) was there a time when there was no (10:22) consciousness? Well [if so]. I don’t think it originates in time.”
Bohm is asking the same questions Jung asks about human consciousness. Perhaps Bohm is right about coherence. Perhaps our current way of thinking is incoherent, but we are so attached to it we do not see the incoherence. This is why we cannot get underneath the thinking used to create the dragon. This is what keeps us stuck. But, Stephen Hawking may have a way out. He said black holes can evaporate. I think thought traps can too.
The Struggle: Jürgen writes: Who do we help to make the world a better place?
– To Beat The Devil — T Bone Burnett · The Invisible Light ·“I’ll tell you what you want to hear… I’ll play upon your darkest fear… then I’ll take what I want from you… to beat the devil you must go deep as he stays shallow…to beat the devil you must not be part of the dissonance…nothing that he does will last…”
Time is a limited resource, especially in our super-fast paced Western culture for to live here is to live always running out of time. This is because in Western culture, it is common practice to exchange time for money. To make it even more interesting, there are different levels of compensation for different kinds of workers. This is a code embedded deeply in the fabric of Western culture that benefits the super-rich for it is basically true to make money, one has to have money to buy the best education, to get pass the gatekeepers, and to land high paying, high power jobs (case in point, the recent college admission scandal). To not follow this well-established pattern (the cultural code), it takes tremendous collective social will and effort. And this takes time for it is a moral struggle and moral struggles require the collaborative effort of many people.
My friend Cynthia told me about the struggle in the Philippines to extricate themselves from Colonial Spanish rule that reigned in the Philippines for 333 years. During this time, the Spaniards ravaged their land and did terrible things to the indigenousness people. This is the Imperialist Mindset in its purest and cruelest form, and it has done such things all over the world. In the Philippines after so many years of colonial rule, the people felt powerless and at the mercy of the invading force. But, among them rose a soft-spoken man (José Protasio Rizal) who used his words to awaken his people’s heart. He showed them how to reclaim their dreams through love and compassion. The Spanish killed him. Nevertheless, his words and ideas grew and blossomed, helping his people rediscovered their heart power, which helped them reclaim their passion to resist the Imperialist Force. They overcame the Spanish but were invaded again by the Japanese and the United States who also mistreated them. Still the people preserved, maintaining their identity through it all by keeping their hearts nourished and alive.
So, moral struggles are possible. They just take time because many, many people need to come together and unify to create a center of gravity rooted in compassion, love, and courage—perhaps creating a psychological-spiritual counterweight. If this happens, individuals involved in the moral struggle can tap into energy that comes from inside. This energy is most crucial at the beginning of a moral struggle when it is trying to coalesce for this is when every individual is trying to find their internal center of gravity and power. They also need to figure out where they are needed in the emerging effort. To do this, each individual needs to sink deep into themselves, which means confronting their shadow (i.e., the vortex inside themselves) for this might be the only way to find their personal power and understand how their unique gifts and abilities can help hold the sacred space for the emerging moral effort. This is a very fragile phase of development in a moral struggle because everyone’s energy is so easily dispersed, which can cause the entire effort to evaporate.
People in power know this, and they’ll do anything to stir confusion and create division. Thus, to resist dispersion, it is essential to find ways for individuals to feel empowered and connected. We can do this by seeing, hearing, and understanding each other—think the infinity sign, a never-ending flow of reciprocal relationships, a sharing of energy renewed each time it is passed back and forth between people working for a greater good.
It’s not simple at all because human relationships fall so easily back into old ways, old patterns, old thinking. In short, they return to the Pit of Peril because it is our home. It is what we know. It is how we understand reality. And, it is the Jaws of the Dragon. All human systems are susceptible to this falling into the pit for they rest upon the fragile flow of consciousness passing back and forth between the individual plots of consciousness each of us is attempting to cultivate or tame. In short, the quality of our shared reality rests upon the health of our individual plot of consciousness and our relationships with other–how healthy or unhealthy they are. If we are not watchful, incursions from our unconsciousness and other’s unconsciousness will rise and trip us up in the most dreadful ways. When this happens, it can cause a person to lose their passion and purpose, making them give up. This is devastating not only for the individual, but for the emerging moral struggle because every person is essential in its formation, especially in the beginning when our fragile human relationships tend to self-destruct the most due in large part to the pull of the asili back into the old system, old ways, and familiar patterns of thinking designed to keep us in line, really to prevent people from sinking into their full, authentic selves where their power lies because these types of people are a threat to the system.
Thus, Jürgen nails when he says:With all the many groups of people and their many ideas on what it means to live a good life, it has become increasingly harder to tell who are the ones we would like to identify with, help along, and promote in their efforts to make this world a better place. With so many people lying through closed teeth, so many others pretending to be someone they are not, and with yet so many others not understanding the implications of their own words, how can we tell the real deal from fake and delusion?
Jürgen outlines 3 types of people or personalities to avoid, and I added a fourth. They appear in all cultures, but it is in Western culture where they have truly found a place to thrive because Western systems reward people who exhibit and excel in these traits, behaviors, and qualities. They are:
1. Lying: Those who are lying through closed teeth (They do so to manipulate and divert the good fortune and luck of others unto themselves — See The Divine Dodo: The Corruption).
“A man who lies to himself, and believes his own lies becomes unable to recognize truth, either in himself or in anyone else, and he ends up losing respect for himself and for others. When he has no respect for anyone, he can no longer love, and in order to divert himself, having no love in him, he yields to his impulses, indulges in the lowest forms of pleasure, and behaves in the end like an animal. And, it all comes from lying—lying to others and to yourself.” — Fyodor Dostoevsky (Thank you Colin Kilburn for posting)
2. Masquerading: Those who are pretending to be someone or something they are not—the scammer, the conman or woman, the beguiler, cheater, trickster, or slicker. I will get back to this later…it is important.
Resisting the pull back into unconscious ways of thinking and being takes great inner strength and wisdom. We all have this strength and wisdom, but like Aqua Man, we need to be orientated to our inner realities (e.g., know where our unconscious Pit of Peril is), learn how our abilities work, and train in using our abilities. Consciousness Warriors are deep divers in the Sea of Unconsciousness. They can see in the dark, and they have compassion for those still trapped in old ways, but they don’t take phony, counterfeit, deceptive pretension, or pandering. They draw clear boundaries to protect their inner spaces, guarding their time and attention.
3. Blind:Those who do not understand the implications of their own words and actions.
Being blind to our inner reality is like a sleeping sickness for we have all emerged from the Sea of Unconsciousness, but our systems and ways of thinking pull most of us back under. A person who has been pulled back into the Unconsciousness or put back to sleep tends to use words carelessly because they do not understand their inner spaces; therefore, they say things that are crueler than they need to be and do things that are meaner than they need to be. Neither do they understand how their words carry gravity that can create a hole inside them that can turn into the Pit of Peril. Some think such a pit is handy because it provides a place to toss all their uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. But, this is a mistake because in the Pit of Peril this submerged content is free to morph and twist into all sorts of cruel and destructive impulses that can easily overpower our best intentions to constrain them. Primitive cultures understood this believing evil spirits could possess people. This makes sense if you understand how suppressed, unconscious content can break through into our lives and cause us to act in ways we might not act if we had better balance inside.
Jung wrote a lot about this kind of blindness and how it finds ways to re-emerge and steer us wrong. He recounts walking with a native guide on Mount Elgon in East Africa when they come upon a beautifully constructed little hut near a cave where he lived with his family. Jung knew these huts were built as a ghost trap to protect the family from evil forces. When Jung asked the man if he made it, he denied it with signs of extreme agitation, asserting that only children would make such a ju-ju…whereupon he kicked the hut and it all falls down. On page 269, he writes: “This is exactly the reaction we can observe in Europe today. Outwardly people are more or less civilized, but inwardly they are still primitives. Something in man is profoundly disinclined to give up his beginnings, and something else believes it has long since got beyond all that. (…) The conflict between the two dimensions of consciousness is simply an expression of the polaristic structure of the psyche, which like any other energic system is dependent on the tension of opposites. (…)”
Jürgen says: “…there are quite a few signs by which the Imperialist Mindset can be identified in somebody’s speech or behavior, one of which is againstness, which results in kind of a war mentality.” The 1% know this and use this mindset as a weapon to enflame this mind war by turning our thinking and beliefs against us. Jürgen further describes how the drive for power permeates all of European-based thought, philosophy, and religion, its presence, in most people, goes unnoticed by its carriers. This is our unconsciousness at work, and it is the same forces that make us blind. We are all carriers of it, but it is most virulent in the 1%. This is because of the consolidation of money, resources, influence, and power.
The 1% speak in a coded language. They don’t use many words (often 3-word simple sentences). And, their words come in short bursts that are repetitive, almost musical, and tinged with strong emotions. They tend to say absolutely nothing, but rather fill the soundscape with their voice so others cannot think or hear their own voice or thoughts. They are like hypnotizers who spin fantastic stories about the land of plenty, but these stories are like mirages for they always fade away the closer we get to them. The 1% are more like magical demagogues. They are Master Manipulators who perpetuate narratives of not enough money, not enough attention, not enough recognition, not enough of everything needed to live a “Good Life” creating fear and confusion because we are easier to herd where they want us in these states. They love it! Like Typhoid Mary, they do not appear to suffer from the disease of unconsciousness, but they readily infect others with their unconsciousness.
For more on the language of the super-rich, see:
Inside The Minds Of The Mega-Rich (1A) – Chances are, if you got ten million dollars right now, it would change your life. But would you change for the better? What if it was a hundred million dollars? Or a billion? How would you change, and how would it change you? What impact does wealth have on one’s mind and morals? And what’s the role of the wealthy in easing inequality?
What’s It Like To Be Rich? Ask The People Who Manage Billionaires’ Money (Hidden Brain) – What are the lives of the planet’s wealthiest people really like? Several years ago, sociologist Brooke Harrington decided to find out. What she learned talking to the people who managed their money shocked her: “The lives of the richest people in the world are so different from those of the rest of us, it’s almost literally unimaginable. National borders are nothing to them. They might as well not exist. The laws are nothing to them. They might as well not exist.”
Consciousness Warriors understand the dangers of the Pit of Peril and guard against it and the dangers of attachment by practicing awareness and non-attachment (an old Buddhist practice). Consciousness Warriors employ their super powers of intuition, empathy, and love to help others find their inner spring where love, joy, and compassion rise eternal. They seek words that inspire insights to help others transform their inner spaces that are drying up form lack of use. Consciousness Warriors know they cannot do this for another person, just like a personal trainer cannot exercise for someone else. This is work that can only be done by the person seeking wholeness. Consciousness Warriors can walk with, support, and encourage someone who is seeking the power inside themselves that is needed to transform their inner wasted, barren landscapes. Consciousness Warriors are good listeners, but they also understand how a person blinded by their unconsciousness can hurt others, and so guard their inner spaces and time.
4. Narcissism: Western Civilization is an extrovert’s delight, and people with these abilities are rewarded handsomely, but are we drowning in Narcissistic Personality Disorder?
Narcissistic people have an exaggerated sense of self-importance. They feel entitled to everything and require constant, excessive admiration. They expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it. They exaggerate achievements and talents and are preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate. They believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people. They monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior. They expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations. They take advantage of others to get what they want, and they have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others. They are often envious of others and believe others envy them. They behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious—and they are! They insist on having the best of everything—the best car, the best vacation, the best education, the best house, the best office. Have you ever encountered one of these people?
The magic narcissist weld is the ability to split reality. They do this by creating two bubbles of the moment they find themselves in that might be nuanced with good and bad. In one bubble, they put all the negative attributes of that situation, and then project it like vomit on anyone standing too near them. In the other bubble, they imbue all the good and noble things about that situation, and then like Glenda the Good Witch, they step into this bubble and float away, leaving behind a fractured and smaller reality.
In Western European-based systems, narcissists have found a special place where they can flourish because they love to take control. Since most systems in Western society are structured with one person is in control of everyone else, this is a natural habitat for a narcissist. A conscious narcissist might actually do a pretty darn good job at the top, but an unconscious narcissist tends to fall prey to their very worst impulses.
This is so important to understand because here again we come to the edge of the split between consciousness and unconsciousness. So, let’s try to understand this divide a bit better. To do so, it is helpful to understand how human consciousness falls along several spectrums as charted by C.G. Jung. One of these spectrums is the range between extroversion and introversion. To quickly orientate you to this spectrum—an extreme introvert has a vivid internal world. One so deep and vibrant, the edge between the internal and external can disappear. When this happens, the person is most often diagnosed as having schizophrenia because they lost the line between their inner and outer realities and are no longer able to discern what is rising from within them and what exits outside of them.
On the other side of the spectrum is extreme extroversion. Extroverts have a keen ability to read a room full of people and instantly grasp the energy of the room. They might even grasp the mood and energy of every individual in the room, understanding in that moment how to make all the energy flow together to create an unforgettable experience for all working it like a conductor of an orchestra. It is electrifying to be in a room with extrovert because they can dazzle, entertain, and mesmerize everyone in it. People are drawn to them, and they are drawn to others because being with other people energies them. It’s simply how their consciousness renews itself. But, if an extreme extrovert lacks awareness of their abilities and how their mind re-energizes, it can become debilitating for when the crowds leave, extroverts can descend into states of exhaustion, emptiness, and depression. Thus, it is not hard to understand an extrovert has an intense desire to be surrounded by people 24/7.
Now, I am no expert, but I can imagine how it is possible for an extrovert to lose the line between their internal reality and the external world too. If this occurs and a little unconscious narcissism is added to the mix, it wouldn’t be hard for this sort of person to believe the outer world is also their inner world. Lacking the balance that having a more defined inner world provides, such a person could perceive everything outside of them as part of them and thus belonging to them. They could think they can do whatever they want to someone outside of their own bodies and minds because there is no division. When this occurs, we have crossed over into a pretty bad case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
So, what does this mean that these four types of people or personalities flourish inside Western Civilization?
It means we are sick… Western Civilization is sick… it is making everyone inside sick.
The sickness stems from our wildly out of balance inner states that are disappearing ever more rapidly due to the type of thinking and mindsets so prominent in Western Civilization. These imbalances have caused an extreme state of lopsidedness that is hastening the crumbling of the barriers erected long ago to hold back our most destructive impulses rising from the deepest places inside us all—our unconsciousness—something that gets amplified in groups.
It is pointless to beat ourselves up for being unconscious for it is our most natural state of being. We all do our best to navigate our unconsciousness, which is most frequently expressed through human relationships and exacerbated by the cultural asili that keeps us trapped in thinking too small for the moment we are inNow. To escape, we must sink deep into ourselves, and to do this we need the help and support of others.
One antidote is cultivating trust. But to do this, we need to relearn how to truly make contact with each other. Ian MacKenzie talks about this in his blog titled: The Wild Edge of Emergence. I heard him speak recently where he described 4 essential elements for emergence that are:
Contact – What does it mean to truly make contact with another human being…another living creature?
Trust – Can the other person receive you (e.g., will I be judged? Can I be myself with you?). To work in a state of trust means letting go of the masks and personas necessary to navigate in our current systems.
Transparency – What is actually going on with us? Are there hidden agendas that will make the collaborative effort become stillborn? If the seed of new beginnings is not planted deep, it will not grow.
Coherence – Every individual begins to self-assemble knowing that every other individual plays an essential part to the whole (e.g., you got that piece, I don’t have to worry about that). We learn to share our gifts, and probably more importantly, to receive the gifts that others bring. A natural order begins to form like tribal and ancient communities where every individual has essential roles even the elders… they kept the memories and listen deeply.
He spoke about how making contact with another human being takes a long time because there are many levels that must to be navigated to reach deep contact. This is especially true for individual immersed in Western cultural for they have to wear masks and occupy personas to navigate and survive in the systems they depend on to survive—systems filled with the Imperialist Mindset and other sharp styles of thinking and being that are always eager to cut people down who threaten the system and the preferred ways of thinking in it.
Of these 4 stages, making contact is probably the most difficult. Our ancestors knew the importance of our inner spaces, and they understood how the flow of energy between people affect and impact our inner spaces. If our relationships contribute to us spiraling down as individuals, then our thoughts and actions spiral down and the reality we share descends as well. If we can help each other spiral up, then our thoughts and actions spiral up and our shared reality can spiral up too. Our ancestors knew how to mitigate incursions from the unconsciousness that can cause people and groups to spiral down. All of this knowledge is being lost due to thinking like the Imperialist Mindset and other sharp-edged Western thinking styles. We have almost completely destroyed our inner spaces, and we wonder why our planet is dying Now.
These are the only spaces from where transformational change can emerge. If we do not heal our current state of lopsided consciousness and reclaim our lost inner spaces—we will go over the Climate Cliff for it is where our Western thinking has lead us. We need to move away from the danger zone. We can only do this together. We must begin by healing the deep wounds inside ourselves and helping others do the same. This can only happen when deep contact is made, and truly reciprocal relationships occur. From here, anything can happen, even making the dragon’s jaws disappear.
The End – Concluding Thoughts
As I struggled to tie the lose strands of the thoughts in this blog together, I watched Notre Dame burned. I thought of the ancient oak turning into smoke and blowing away as I listened to reports about the sacred, precious relics and art inside. Everyone was wondering if all was lost. It sure looked like it from the powerful flames. When the brave, courageous fire fighters could finally be seen spraying tiny streams of water onto the fire beast, it all seemed too little too late, leaving the only thing people could do was watch and witness, unable to look away.
Notre Dame means Our Lady… Our Mother. She was built as a place for people to gathered—for this is what church means—a place to gather and remember there is a touch of the divine inside of us. Chris Cuomo dedicated his hour that night to Notre Dame saying she was a place where people gathered to embraced by her divine beauty and remember this beauty is inside ourselves and in others too. There is tremendous strength in gathering together in community. We may have forgotten how gathering together in places and ways that elevate and celebrate our highest and best potentials that nourishes us and strength us, even at the worst of times. It was Notre Dame where people gathered after the devasting terrorist attacks in France. It has been a place for people to gather and remember we are more than just flesh and blood for centuries. She reminded us we are beings imbued with spirit, light, and beauty.
As I watched, a thought occurred that what if this is a foreshadowing of what is to come? What if we do nothing to mitigate Climate Change and the monster we have created using our thinking grows so big that our tiny streams of consciousness are just too puny and almost useless leaving the only thing we to do is watch and witness horror and terror of knowing we are losing our home, our mother, the place we have gathered for millenniums, a place so precious, so sacred we will only realize what we are losing as we watch is being destroyed.
After the fire was quelled, we learned about the brave fire fighters and the Chaplin at Norte Dame who ran inside the burning church as fire rained down on them from the inferno above them to save the precious relics and paintings. They saved them, and the organ survived the fire, and the cross still hung on front wall. Even the bees living on top of the roof survived. I don’t know if we dare hope that we can somehow do the same for Our Mother—Earth. That the people who show up and run into the center of the coming disaster can save enough of the precious beauty that has evolved on Earth so that Our Mother can survive and recover. I can only foolishly hope that we can like the fire fighters, the Chaplin, and the bees escape the jaws of the dragon at the last possible moment.
Today, many people realize we are in a moment demanding deep wisdom combined with meaningful action and sacrifice so our children and grandchildren might inherit a world capable of sustaining life. At times, it feels like facing a massive tidal wave of indifference, denial, and unawareness of the growing signs that if we do not stop what we are doing to the climate (and very soon…perhaps less than 12 years!), then we won’t even be able to mitigate the worst effects of the ever increasing and more destructive climate catastrophes. Even worst, there are people in this world who do not want to change the status quo because they are profiting from the systems pushing us all over the climate cliff. These are powerful forces. They are unconscious in nature and surround us night and day as revealed by the confusion and division keeping us from working together to make positive and sustainable change. Soon Earth’s delicate ecological balances will be pushed too far.
As a ray of hope, I am dedicating this post to highlighting some of the people and groups around the world who are pushing back against these destructive forces… people who embody the changes Earth needs Now.
One courageous person is Cynthia Addawan who lives in a mountainous region of the Philippines where her people continue to live in tribes and protect their land from intruders. She told me how most of the young men in her tribe are still trained to go to war using spears and bolos and how the Spanish colonized her country for almost 333 years but were not able to conquer the mountain tribes (her people). Then, the Americans and Japanese came, but her tribe managed to retain their originality and culture (not easy in the face of the steady swept of Western Civilization bent on creating one gigantic monolith civilization). Over time, she described how her people adopted more peaceful ways of settling disagreements. Since the 1980s, there have been few tribal issues leading to war, and recently they celebrated indigenous month, which includes commemorations of ancient war dances. This festival is not meant to encourage young people to go to war, but rather to realize the richness of their tribal traditions and how the mountainous tribes have come to understand and practice more peaceful ways of dealing with differences and conflict today. Thus, the commemorative war dances celebrate their shared heritage and help the youth understand and value the journey the mountainous tribes have taken to avoid conflict and sustain peace. She read my blog about Mr. Rogers and is now reading some of his wonderful work to her classes for she is a teacher and understands how important it is to teach the children and youth about handling strong emotions. She is also working to establish a Climate School in the Philippines and collaborating with people around the world to do this. She says beautifully, “I am so concern about all the children—the little angels of this earth. We owe them a planet and a future. We have the power and responsibility to give them a better place to live, and one way to do this is to conserve the environment. This is one legacy we can leave them. Another is to help them control their mad emotions and to channel these energies into something that is beneficial both to them and to other human beings.”
Another person working to help save our civilization is Hans Jørgen Rasmussen. He sees helping children and youth in their activism worldwide as one way to help. With more than 30 years of practice as a psychologist behind him, he understands the dynamic forces confronting young people today. One of his approaches is listening to and being open to standing by a person who is facing a challenge or a personal crisis by availing himself to be supportive as a dialogue partner—you might call it a coach—whereby he gently helps people experiencing a difficult part of their journey by listening. He understands he cannot solve another person’s problems, but he can walk beside them in empathy and compassion. By doing this, he offers support as the person figures out a solution for themselves and finds a way forward, and while dealing with their challenge, they often find unknown resources in themselves resulting in an empowering process with personal growth a by-product of this process. Other ways he is helping to address the threat our civilization faces is by applying his skills in psychology, coaching, and teaching to: 1) start a Climate School in his home town & create a Climate website: Saving Our Planet; 2) build a collection of climate change related videos: The Climate Cinema; 3) co-found a NGO named Saving Our Planet that offers awareness raising concepts such as The Climate School free of charge to organizations, institutions, and groups; and 4) start a climate awareness project in collaboration with a large private school and a university in Turkey, where he spends the winter… and he’s just getting started.
My friend Lucy Rist is founder and runs Girls in Sports—which is a Swedish-based charity that empowers girls through sports and outdoor adventure. Recently, Girls in Sports was selected as one of 5 international organizations that will work together through this international initiative called Girls in the Lead, helping girls become leaders. Through this initiative, Girls in Sports is collaborating with four other organizations based in South Africa, India, Germany, and U.S. to build capacity to empower girls around the world.
My friend Alöna Litovinskaia is designing an innovative educational curriculum for children and youth that will help connect them to the enduring value of nature and working together. Part of the curriculum involves play where children and youth explore and engage together in a natural setting called Kid’s Land. In this space there are many challenges that require them to use their creativity and work together to solve problems in a playful, fast-paced world they are creating as a group. With the help of facilitators versed in art and architectural, management and psychological, as well as educational backgrounds, kids design, plan, build, and settle upon rules and laws to govern their country. She says, “It’s going to be a great and fun practical and social experience for growing minds!” To see more exciting elements of this new space and vision, visit Newa.
My friend Hannelie Sensemaker WorldPainter Venucia is on a journey to explore and embody Whole Person (Embodied Wholeness) Living, Relating, Creativity and Innovation. She is sharing her life’s work through the JOY Generation, which is an embodied wisdom and adventure portal helping to transform the world through JOY. The JOY Generation Portal is the playground where our younger generations can take part in self-discovery adventures and have access to wisdom, inspiration, and guidance as they engage with peers around the world. The portal offers access to 3 interactive web nests; namely JOY Planet, JOY Rides, and JOY Festival (JOY Generators believe good things come in 3’s!). Without a JOY Planet, we cannot thrive, and thus, this is the home of JOY Casts that talks with individuals across the globe who share wisdom, insights, and other possibilities in her series: Your World or Mine? The second aspect of the JOY Planet is the Joy Panorama Interactive Multimedia Multi-Sensory experiences that provides opportunity to explore phenomena and concepts impacting the ability of humanity to thrive. As humanity fails to find solutions to so many dilemmas, in JOYSense, Hannelie and the JOY Generation team share a variety of Collective Sensemaking downloadable, online, and physical experiences. Hannelie is a seasoned author, public speaker, facilitator, and radio host.
Fyodor Ovchinnikov is a facilitator for the Just, Sustainable, and Flourishing Future seminar, which is part of the Young Professionals for Sustainable Development Program. This program provides professional development for young professionals seeking opportunities to align their careers with the UN Agenda 2030 or to make a career transition to a different sector or industry while focusing on some or all of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Many participants report making useful professional contacts with mentors and panelists, building long-term peer support relationships, learning about relevant networks and opportunities, and feeling supported, inspired, and more confident integrating UN SDGs into their work as hallmarks of the program that they found genuinely helpful. If you are interested in mentoring our participants, apply here: https://www.una-sf.org/mentors. More information about the program: https://www.una-sf.org/ypsdg
These are just some of the compassionate and passionate people around the world working to make a difference to secure a sustainable future. We have a longs ways to go to ensure our children, their grandchildren, and 7 generations forward have a livable planet. This is our legacy. We begin by taking the first step together. No other time in human history have we been as deeply dependent on each other as we are Now. We need to hear every voice for today we stand as one global human tribe where every member’s choice is a vote for a sustainable and livable planet, or not. We have never depended on each other as we do Now.
Now is the time for wisdom and for working together.
Other Voices and Places Helping to Change the Tide:
In Seattle, a youth driven group has established Zero Hour. They have also taken the bold action of suing the state of Washington for not taking enough action for a sustainable future (WA State Children’s Trust Lawsuit), and they are doing so much more (visit their site)!
Chris Cuomo said on Valentine’s Day: “The opposite of love is not hate—the opposite of love is indifference.” When someone plainly sees an injustice or wrong occurring and does nothing about it, this person is choosing to let the fabric of our shared reality rip and become ruin. Cuomo made a direct link to the role indifference played in the rise of the three brutal Dictators of World War II. After the chaos of WWI and global economic depression, great numbers of people were left without means of meeting their basic needs. Many looked to strong men with bold visions who said things like: “I can fix this! I, and I alone, can make our country great again!” These strong men possessed an uncanny magnetism that attracted people to them—people being crushed by their circumstances. These men were of course Adolf Hitler of Germany, Benito Mussolini of Italy, and Emperor Hirohito of Japan.
At the beginning of WWII, the United States refused to enter it, fed up after the extraordinary loss of life, resources, and money poured into Europe during the first Great War. This combined with the Great Depression left Americans sunk deep inside a well of isolationist thinking. Many believed Europe needed to work out its own problems, which they felt were rooted in ancient tribal differences and racists tendencies played out over centuries. This thinking prevented Roosevelt from sending U.S. ships to help Churchill get his army out of Dunkirk where they were penned in by Hitler’s army, which was sweeping across Europe in a frightening and virtually unstoppable power grab. I believe Roosevelt sent some airplanes, but they had to be pushed over the Canadian border, not driven or flown, so they could take off from Canada allowing Roosevelt to claim he was not helping Britain, Canada was. Churchill was left in an impossible position for he did not have enough naval ships to evacuate his men. Without a British army, Hitler would invade the island nation forcing Churchill to surrender. Imagine the world if this had happened. Fortunately, Churchill prevailed by using every private water vessel available to cross the English Channel to get his men out.
After Pearl Harbor, America could no longer remain uninvolved in the second Great War now erupting just as brutally in the Far East. To help change public opinion and prepare men for battle, the United States government commissioned a series of movies to explain and justify involvement in yet another war. One of these movies was Prelude to War made by Frank Capra depicting the Nazi propaganda machine and disinformation being put out by the 3 dictatorial regimes. Inspired by Leni Riefenstahl‘s Germany propaganda filmTriumph of the Will, Capra sought to create a movie that would counter hers, but to do so, he knew he needed a powerful idea. From Wikipedia:
“Capra made his primary focus the creation of “one basic, powerful idea” that would spread and evolve into other related ideas. Capra considered one important idea that had always been in his thoughts: ‘I thought of the Bible. There was one sentence in it that always gave me goose pimples’: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
As a result, his goal became to “let the enemy prove to our soldiers the enormity of his cause—and the justness of ours”. He would compile enemy speeches, films, newsreels, newspaper articles, with a list of the enemy’s hostile actions. He presented his ideas to other officers now assigned to help him: ‘I told them of my hunch: Use the enemy’s own films to expose their enslaving ends. Let our boys hear the Nazis and the Japs shout their own claims of master-race crud—and our fighting men will know why they are in uniform.’
Weeks later, after major efforts and disappointments, Capra located hard-to-reach archives within government facilities, and by avoiding normal channels was able to gain access: Peterson and I walked away on air. We had found the great cache of enemy films—and it was ours!”
If interested in these historical strands of fate and destiny, watch Capra’s Prelude to War and the Darkest Hour (an interpretation of Churchill and Dunkirk). After watching or reading about this time, I believe it is possible to grasp just how precarious human time and attention was during this moment as strong men worked day and night to divert and misdirect human attention to obscure their evil deeds. It is a timeless story repeated over and over in the human world. However, Now, here we stand again, this time closer to the edge than ever before, and yet so many people seem blissfully unaware, or worst, indifferent to the danger.
Or, perhaps it is not an edge at all.
Perhaps we face a collision of two different consolidations of human consciousness. What if every moment of our lives and every other human being’s life leaves a trace upon the warp and woof of space and time? What if these traces create a substrate from which our shared conscious reality rises and is expressed? One of the most fundamental expressions of this consciousness is through relationships (i.e., family, friends, community, country, world). Sometimes these relationships are strong, balanced and healthy, and they put good into the world. Sometimes these relationships are broken and unhealthy, and they pour bad into the world. These bonds and the traces they leave behind are immeasurably subtle and elusive for they are of an emotional-psychic-spiritual nature, thus escape our eyes, and even our minds, but not our hearts.
What if these traces of consciousness, this subtle energy, bump into each other and form bonds just like electrons and protons do in the visible universe? What if these bonds glob together and create landscapes, even planets or consolidated bodies of consciousness? Of course, these places would be invisible to the eye for they are spaces created from psychological-emotional-spiritual expressions or memories of our collective co-existence as human beings up to this point in time. There would be beautiful and safe places in this realm as well as dangerous ones. There would be ancient places charted long ago by our ancestors but Now forgotten. And, there would-be dried-up places, submerged places, verdant places, and crowded places. One would need to learn how to navigate these terrains just as one learns how to navigate the physical world, and these places would create the bedrock for our collective conscious co-existence. In short, they form the fertile invisible ground from which new conscious life sprouts and is expressed through time.
Now consider two different consolidations of conscious terrain have formed over the expanse of human conscious co-existence and share the same orbit around the sun of humanity’s awaken consciousness—just as Earth shared the same orbit around our sun with Theia , which is believed to have been a Mars-sized planet orbiting the sun in the same Goldie Locks trajectory as Earth. Scientist believe Theia struck Earth about 4.5 billion years ago in a collision so massive it knocked Earth off its axis, sending it spinning so fast that one day was completed in 5 hours. The colossal amount of debris thrown into space created our moon, which eventually slowed Earth’s spin from 5-hours to 24 hours and created Earth’s tides once water returned. As life emerged, Earth’s crooked axis was transformed into our seasons, and from this destruction and chaos, a new equilibrium rose—one where life could thrive.
Further imagine the destruction and tragic loss of human life that happened 100 years ago and again 75 years ago were near misses of this other consolidation of human consciousness—merely pass-byes, not collisions, but nevertheless capable of generating tremendous gravitational forces within both consolidations of consciousness, which would widen and deepen natural riffs existing within these spheres of consciousness. This fracturing would prevent either sphere from seeing or taking necessary action to avoid a collision with the other. The question becomes can we absorb a direct impact, heal from it, and return to a new dynamic balance—one that supports life—all life.
After writing these strange thoughts, a friend posted one of Rumi’s timeless poems. I believe Rumi felt the possibility of such other realities existing beyond our visible one. Born September 30, 1207, he says so beautifully:
“I have abolished duality from myself.
I have seen the two worlds as One!
One I seek, One I know,
One I see, and One I call.”
~ By RUMI
Returning back to Western Civilization’s definition of reality, Cuomo went onto connect what happened 75 years ago to what Republicans are doing now by protecting a person proving himself to be a pathological liar and holding the most powerful office in the country. Barely two weeks later, Michael Cohen arrived on Capitol Hill to testify before Congress where the gentle Republican men and women came at him hard, employing virtually the same tactic, which was to call him a liar, attack his integrity, and suggest he is simply seeking to profit by his lies. Many gave passionate 5-minute speeches to their base using emotion like super weapons to inflame them (e.g., “I told my wife don’t listen to this, please don’t listen and she said to me don’t worry honey, I won’t listen.”)—all to protect a man shown to have made 6,420 false or misleading claims since he took office (Washington Post, 11/2/18). Of course they were angry, Cohen was no longer lying to protect their man—the President. Many wouldn’t even let Cohen answer their questions saying things like: “This is my time. Don’t interrupt me!” Halfway through his testimony, Cohen admonishes Congress for by now even the gentle Democratic men and women are using their time not to question Cohen but to make counter statements to combat the highly charged mini emotional speeches made by the other side. The result was a shredding of any truth to be found and trampling on the remnants. One of the most profound statements Cohen made was that what people surrounding Trump are doing Now is what he did for him for 10 years, and they will end up where he is Now. He also said when Trump took office he became the very worst version of himself (I’ll get back to this). Don Lemon added later that people protect their own,which is tribal behavior (e.g., BBC interview of U.S. 2020 voters 3/7/19, “Do I vote for character? No, I don’t vote for character… character doesn’t put money in my pocket.).
This idea of social reality as tribal is critical to understand and get underneath in order to grapple with the realities facing us Now. Tribal co-existence is one of the most natural states for human beings to exist. Throughout human civilization, tribes have been the building blocks for how to live together. Tribes protect and nurture their members, and when threatened, fiercely defend them. With the rise and dominance of Western Civilization, the physical embodiment of many tribes around the world has been greatly diminished—which is a tremendous loss of the magnificent diversity and vibrancy of human civilizations as it has evolved on Earth. A question to consider Now is this (Western Civilization) the most stable consolidation of human co-existence we can create? Are there perhaps other more stable and life sustaining consolidations of human conscious co-existence that are more balanced and capable of recognizing and nurturing the realities of inner and outer space.
Despite the dwindling number of so many of the world’s native tribes, tribal ways of thinking have not disappeared. Indeed, with the rise of social media, they are resurging in ways never previously imagined possible. And, why wouldn’t this be so for humans have always found tremendous comfort in groups of other liked minded humans. Tribes, as previously stated, protect and sustain their members from harsh realities of life, and this is true of virtual tribes as it is for real tribes. In essence, they create an external model of reality that reflects and protects the internal world experienced by most of its members. They also serve as effective mechanisms to teach young members about beliefs, traditions, rituals, and knowledge deemed essential for survival in an uncertain world. A tribe is not inherently good or bad—be it ancient or modern—rather it is as good as the human beings making it up and their thinking. However, if a tribe becomes off balanced, its members tend to become off balanced too.
Veering sharply from present to past, I want to contrast current political tribalism with the challenges faced by a real, living tribe. I’ve selected two stories from the book my friend M. sent me to help me cope with my father’s death, child of the jungle, which is about the Fayu tribe in New Guinea. This tribe was facing a serious crisis after having become deeply knocked off balanced by vicious revenge killings. These imbalances permeated into every aspect of their lives, including how they treated their own members and families. As this more aggressive and cruel side of the Fayu’s collective psychic-spiritual landscape grew bigger, it submerged their more loving and nurturing side. Failing to recognize their lopsidedness, they became locked in a tangled web of cruelty.
I am very aware how Western colonization often took place first through missionary work; however, through this story, I have come to understand it is how this work is done that makes the critical difference. In this real-life story, the father felt deeply called to be with the Fayu people, and he did so with a compassionate heart. He did not enforce his way of doing things, nor impose his beliefs, but rather sought to learn their language, engage in conversation, and demonstrate through his own life kinder, gentler ways of being and living together. This was not a one-way street either for he and his family learned from the Fayu people as well. In fact, the family’s very existence in the jungle was only possible because of the Fayu’s help and knowledge, which they shared freely and frequently to help the family live and survive in the jungle—a place of daily wonders and danger. Most importantly, it was only by the invitation of one of the chiefs who expressed how tired he was by all the killings that the family came to live with the Fayu.
Two key moments that vividly demonstrate to me just how far off balanced the Fayu had become are as follows:
Chapter: Nakire — The Woman and the arrow
“It happened while I was playing outside. Several women were heading into the jungle. The husband of one of the women called her back, but she did not immediately respond. When she finally did step out of the trees, he took his bow, notched an arrow, and shot her in the breast.
The Fayu are excellent marksmen. The husband knew exactly how much pressure to exert on the bowstring so that the arrow would wound but not kill his wife. The woman collapsed, groaning, onto the ground. I felt sick. I wanted to scream, to run away, to kill that man. Everyone could see that this woman was pregnant.
Mama heard the cries and came running out of the house. When she saw the scene, she lost it. I have never seen Mama roar as she did on that day. Mama ran over to the woman, extracted the arrow, and helped her to the house. The man was standing there, laughing at our reaction. I threw him a look of contempt as I followed Mama and the woman into our house. Papa was also very upset, but when he confronted the Fayu about it, they just laughed at him as well.
Today it is different. Over the years, the Fayu watched the relationship between my parents, and what they saw – their respect and love for each other – began to change the way they treated their own wives. It was a new concept for the Fayu that a man and a woman could work together, be happy at it and be able to incorporate humor into their relationship. With my parents, they could see how important love was and the argument didn’t have to be settled by arrows or death.”
Chapter: My Brother Ohri — Boy who ate the wrong part of the crocodile
“But this time our concern was justified. When I saw Ohri step out of the brush, I shouted for Mama and hurried to him. He collapsed to the ground, weak and with a high fever. I wanted to help him up but didn’t know where I could touch him. His entire chest was a huge, infected wound covered by a thick layer of green-grey fungus. The Fayu had shot him with an arrow and left him for dead in the middle of the jungle.
Mama came running and helped Ohri into our house, Papa asked the Fayu what had happened and was told that Ohri had eaten a forbidden piece of a crocodile. This was his punishment. They completely ignored him and acted as though he didn’t exist anymore.
I started to cry when I saw his pain-streaked face. He smelled like rotting meat. The wound was obviously gangrenous. I sat next to him and held his hand. Mama brought bandages and medication and rolled Ohir on to this side. She mixed potassium permanganate with water and poured it over his chest. An inch-thick fungal growth slowly loosened itself and fell off him onto the leaves we had placed underneath him.
Ohir was in great pain. His entire chest was an open wound filled with maggots. Mama cut a bedsheet into large strips, covered them in antibiotic cream, and bound his torso with them. She changed the bandages every day. Papa took the leaves and dressings out behind the house and burned them.”
Ohir would survive his ordeal, and he would be accepted back into his tribe. The author does not tell us if the Fayu changed their ways after this event, but you see love and compassion demonstrated by the family as the Fayu watched, and most importantly, paid attention. The author does say later: “Words alone are empty. You have to live out what you hold to be true. The Fayu needed to decide for themselves whether they wanted to change, for true change comes only from the heart.” Thus, it was the compassionate, tender, and loving side of the Fayu people re-emerging simply by watching and paying attention to how these strange, white people did things differently. This simple act empowered the Fayu to remember the submerged parts still existed inside of them (like an energy being activated through the mere act of observation). The change was slow, one person at a time, one choice at a time, but little by little they began to bring this side of themselves back into their shared psycho-social-spiritual conscious sphere. Thus, this is how a gentle transformation occurred.
When we strive to become the best version of ourselves, we pay attention to our inner life as well as our outer life. We learn how to channel our most destructive human emotions and nature in less destructive ways. We help others learn how to do this too. This is love. Love is simply paying attention to ourselves and helping each other do this too. It is doing what we can with what we have to make the world a little bit better. It is helping each other heal wounds (those inside of us or inflicted on us by outside forces or fate) for we are all human beings making a wondrous and perilous journey to become more conscious, and hopefully kinder and more loving beings as well, but this is a personal choice. The journey begins by looking inside and seeing and validating our inner truth and reality. This can feel risky and even dangerous because most of us are taught that our inner realities are nothing more than crazy mutterings, insane ramblings, or unhinged thoughts. Correcting this imbalance in our collective vision (i.e., verifying and validating the truth of each person’s inner reality in balance with every other person alive) may be the only way to move forward together. This can only happen by paying attention to what is happening inside and helping each other do the same—one person at a time. It’s not too late to change our shared reality. As long as we have life, we have choice, and until our dying day, we leave traces upon the warp and woof of space and time.
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One More Story about the Cost of Indifference: In this story, the price of indifference is human life. 48 Hours In Syria is a powerful story told by Kassem Eid about spending two years living in a city under siege. It began after he and his neighbors took part in the protests during the Arab Spring in 2011, Syrian President Bashar Al Assad began to punish towns like Kassem’s. His forces bombed them, surrounded them, and starved them. That’s when Kassem decided to fight back.
The Dalai Lama Talks About How to Tackle the Indifferent Mind: How to Train Our Mind: His Holiness the Dalai Lama explains how to train the mind to tackle destructive emotions during his meeting with a group from India at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 11, 2019.
Stories About Weaving Strong (Even Destructive) Emotions into Making Legal Decisions: RadioLab: Null and Void – These stories tell about jury nullification with a particular passionate interview and story beginning at 40 minutes into the show.
1A: Male Masculinity in the 21stCentury: How to Raise Boys – How do we teach men how to acknowledge that “I feel pain, I feel fear?” This is an in-depth discussion about the messages and confusing narratives that swirl around men and boys today and how it shapes their understanding of what it means to be a man and how they should act.
One Way a Different Consolidation of Consciousness Might Split Off from the Whole and Grow: Conflict and strong emotions have always been hard for humans to navigate, especially in groups—be it a group of 3 or a country of millions—but navigating them together may be our only evolutionary option. Some groups favor acting on strong emotions and openly engaging in conflict (tic for tac approach), but this can escalate or lock a conflict into a static pattern. Some groups prefer ignoring conflict and strong emotions, pretending it’s business as usual, while the intense emotional energy is submerged into the unconscious realms where it tends to grow and morph out of sight of conscious awareness, typically transforming into something much worst (to play the unconsciousness game, see the animation-graphic above).
Some groups don’t believe they have any responsibility to guide the emotional energy of its members at all, rather believing this is the job of family and friends to soothe disaffected individuals. But we’ve seen this play out with middle income and middle of the country Americans, many who are white and feel the systems that once supported and elevated them left them behind. They face uncertain futures where they cannot care for themselves and their families. They feel pain and fear that can surge very strongly at times and need to be sorted and channelled. But with broken systems, their voices go unheard, and so they do talk to their friends and family, and they are angry too. The result is a splitting from the whole and formation of a consolidation of individuals who weld enough will and power to elect Donald Trump.
Whenever a whole is divided and becomes polarized due to lack of effective strategies to channel strong emotions that can flow from time to time within groups, the polarized sides can begin to fracture, allowing even more powerful, destructive potentials (forces) to fill the cracks. Repairs might be attempted on both sides (i.e., the stained glass), but without dealing with the originating causes of the fracture, these repairs are often too little, too late, and too weak to hold the whole, causing everything to break apart—a story as old as time. See The Divine Dodo — In Maidjan (The Corruption) for the story for which the gif below was created to tell.
Note: This is a reposting from a former post on my old site Sapience207 with an update of what happened next after first posting this piece.
I woke up this morning clinging to a fragment of a dream where I was sitting quietly listening to a lesson being given by someone I could not see, but who was saying, “The sea is within…within every human being.” I knew this to mean the Sea of Unconsciousness—the vast, uncharted water churning below the surface of normal consciousness filled with hidden feelings, thoughts, and ideas—things that have been buried or have never risen to the light of consciousness. To most normal men and women who go about their daily lives following expected norms and traditions, if such hidden content suddenly became conscious, it would seem strange, even alien. But, there is so much that lies hidden underneath the thin surface of reality that “normal” human consciousness uses to navigate life. Humanity after all has only been on Earth for but a brief moment of time when compared to Earth’s geologic history or to the cosmological origins of the universe. Compared to these measures, humans are but blips in time. But still, even in this blip of time, humans have come to dominate pretty much all life on our planet, even while grasping only a fragment of the whole of consciousness existing within each of us and all around us—like water.
Recently, it has felt to me as if I am a survivor of some great disaster on this sea, and I am surviving only by clinging to a little bit of wreckage scattered on the surface of this endless Sea of Unconsciousness.
This feeling is due to circumstances beyond my control and is probably the reason for the dream, which I interpret as an ongoing effort to understand and make sense of these extreme circumstances. Something else that resonated recently in my sense-making mission is the Coen Brothers’ movie A Serious Man (2009). Yes, I know I’m late in getting around to watching this movie, but sometimes I think we see things when we are supposed to see them and when we need them. And, so I needed it now, and I really related to poor Larry Gopnick who is the main character and a person who has been living by all the rules and beliefs he was taught to follow until he encounters a string of strange reversals and even spooky circumstances that flip his reality upside down. What befalls Larry is so disconcerting and destabilizing it threatens to undo everything he has ever worked to achieve. In addition, he is poorly equipped to deal with or understand his circumstances. So, he seeks help from the Rabbis at his synagog, but each encounter leaves him more bewildered and baffled than before.
For a good read and analysis on this movie, go to: This Ruthless World; specifically, to the March 23, 2012 post: What Does this Movie Mean? “A Serious Man” (2009). However, I would like to highlight several spectacular observations this blogger makes about this movie. Number one, she says the movie is a commentary on the idea that we are taughtto just accept things as they are in life and sail through it without looking for answers; however, this same attitude is what costs Larry his marriage, his family, and his home. She further points out that the viewer might first assume the moral of the story is: “If you don’t tend to that garden, someone else will;” however, the moral really goes much deeper, sinking down into the idea that “the ‘wisdom’ of unthinking, indifferent existence is absolutely wrong and spiritually destructive.” And, this is so important!
Carl Jung believes this is important too, which is probably why I am obsessed with his writings since previously I posted about the Archetype of Meaningand the Archetype of Life. However, Jung says much more about both archetypes, especially in relation to sense-making and meaning, including the following:
“It always seems to us as if meaning—compared with life—were the younger event, because we assume, with some justification, that we assign it of ourselves, and because we believe, equally rightly no doubt, that the great world can get along without being interpreted.
But how do we assign meaning? From what source, in the last analysis, do we derive meaning?
This is a fantastic question that is worthy of every human being’s time and attention; however, it can be difficult work, especially when one is forced to do it due to circumstances that decimate one’s prior beliefs and systems of thinking—like Larry. I use the word decimate deliberately for when we are growing up, we are taught certain beliefs and ways of thinking in accordance with our culture and society (or tribe). These things are supposed to help us make sense of the world and give us a vehicle by which to navigate life’s ups and downs. However, systems of thinking and beliefs are much more like diverse and different wild animals that have been tamed by culture and society to help people survive living together over time. Thus, if one’s conscious landscape is decimated due to a great calamity that kills off a large number of the wild animals (i.e., systems of thinking and beliefs), then it becomes necessary to regenerate the land (i.e., conscious ground), and then to find and tame new ways of thinking and beliefs in order to go forward again. Loneliness ensues, especially for a person who has been thrust unexpectedly into this process, because family, friends, and larger community who have not been crushed by the same circumstances often remain quite happy to go on living in the same systems of thinking and beliefs that defined one’s previously shared reality.
Jung answers his own question of where meaning is derived, and thus how it is gained, in the following way:
“The forms we use for assigning meaning are historical categories that reach back into the mists of time—a fact we do not take sufficiently into account. Interpretations make use of certain linguistic matrices that are themselves derived from primordial images.”
Lets stop for one second to consider the word primordial. Jung uses this word a lot as he advances his theories of consciousness and the unconsciousness. However, I suspect it may create some confusion, so here’s a basic definition of primordial:
Existing at or from the beginning of time; primeval — “the primordial oceans”
(especially of a state or quality) basic and fundamental — “the primordial needs of the masses”
Biological:(of a cell, part, or tissue) in the earliest stage of development.are
To Jung, primordial means all of these things in relation to the origins of consciousness. He believes consciousness existed at the beginning of time and that it is a basic and fundamental state that all living beings are immersed. He also believes there are developmental stages of consciousness that can be traced back through time much like a human embryo transitions through key evolutionary stages before becoming a fetus that will become a human being. Thus, primordial images are structures in consciousness stretching back to the beginning of time. They form the blocking blocks of thoughts and our psychic nature. Thus, primordial images are crucial in helping a person make sense of their world and to find meaning and purpose, especially after a great calamity shatters one’s previous beliefs and ways of thinking.
Now, back to Jung who continues saying:
“Interpretations make use of certain linguistic matrices that are themselves derived from primordial images. From whatever side we approach this question, everywhere we find ourselves confronted with the history of language, with images and motifs that lead straight back to the primitive wonder-world.
Take, for instance, the word “idea.” It goes back to the concept of Plato, and the eternal ideas are primordial images [and thus] stored up (in a supracelestial place) as eternal, transcendent forms [Note: thissounds very much like where the ideas for gods and goddess emerged from the Sea of Unconsciousness]. The eye of the seer perceives them as “imagines et lares,” or as images in dreams and revelatory visions [like my dream].
Or let us take the concept of energy, which is an interpretation of physical events. In earlier times it was the secret fire of the alchemists, or phlogiston, or the heat-force inherent in matter, like the “primal warmth” of the Stoics [i.e., a member of the ancient philosophical school of Stoicism and a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining], or the Heraclitean (ever-living fire), which borders on the primitive notion of an all-pervading vital force, a power of growth and magic healing that is generally called mana.”
I think it is important to take another moment to consider just who the heck Heraclitus was; so, from Wikipedia:
Heraclitus of Ephesuswas a pre-SocraticGreek philosopher, and a native of the city of Ephesus, then part of the Persian Empire. He was of distinguished parentage. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom. From the lonely life he led, and still more from the apparently riddled and allegedly paradoxical nature of his philosophy and his stress upon the heedless unconsciousness of humankind, he was called “The Obscure” and the “Weeping Philosopher”.
Heraclitus was famous for his insistence on ever-present change as being the fundamental essence of the universe, as stated in the famous saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice” (see panta rheibelow). This is commonly considered to be one of the first digressions into the philosophical concept of becoming, and has been contrasted with Parmenides statement that “what-is is” as one of the first digressions into the philosophical concept of being. As such, Parmenides and Heraclitus are commonly considered to be two of the founders of ontology. Scholars have generally believed that either Parmenides was responding to Heraclitus, or Heraclitus to Parmenides, though opinion on who was responding to whom changed over the course of the 20th century. Heraclitus’ position was complemented by his stark commitment to a unity of opposites in the world, stating that “the path up and down are one and the same”. Through these doctrines Heraclitus characterized all existing entities by pairs of contrary properties, whereby no entity may ever occupy a single state at a single time. This, along with his cryptic utterance that “all entities come to be in accordance with this Logos” (literally, “word”, “reason”, or “account”) has been the subject of numerous interpretations.
I like this guy! Now, back to Jung again:
“I will not go on needlessly giving examples. It is sufficient to know that there is not a single important idea of view that does not possess historical antecedents. Ultimately, they are all founded on primordial archetypal forms whose concreteness dates from a time when consciousness did not think, but only perceived. “Thoughts” were objects of inner perception, not thought at all, but sensed as external phenomena—seen or heard, so to speak. Thought was essentially revelation, not invented but forced upon us or bringing conviction through its immediacy and actuality. Thinking of this kind precede the primitive ego-consciousness, and the latter is more its object than its subject. But we ourselves have not yet climbed the last peak of consciousness, so we also have a pre-existent thinking, of which we are not aware so long as we are supported by traditional symbols—or, to put it in the language of dreams, so long as the father or the king is not dead.”
I want to draw your attention to Jung’s idea that primitive humans experienced thought very differently than modern humans experience it. He says thought for primitive humans came as visions, disembodied voices, dreams, and probably even disembodied ghosts and phantoms—stuff from our own consciousness, but humans had not yet developed the powers to perceive and grasp that these things were coming from within. This must have been a time in human development when the world was spectacularly magical as well as unimaginably terrifying for demons are just as likely to pop out from the unconscious as well as fairies or benevolent helpers. No wonder our ancestors developed elaborate myths, rituals, and traditions designed to tame such occurrences and give them cohesion, structure, and function so they could understand and maybe control them, and perhaps, most importantly, so certain psychic states do not inadvertently tear to shreds the fragile shared reality that was being created by early human tribes—and thus the vital role of medicine man, medicine woman, shaman emerged—people who could travel into these obscure and shady realms of consciousness and return with wisdom.
Jung goes on to give a lively account of how unconscious thought can pave the way for conscious solutions by recounting a dream a young theological student had and his analysis of the dream (pages 33 to 37). I will not go into this dream, only noting it involves the dreamer, a handsome old man dressed entirely in black known who is known as the black magician, a magician dressed entirely in white (you guessed it… the white magician), and an extraordinary event that occurs in a country ruled by an old king who is near his death. In Jung’s analysis, it is important to know the two magicians are two aspects of the Wise Old Man who is the superior master and teacher that is known as the Archetype of the Spirit symbolizing the pre-existent meaning hidden in the chaos of life. He tells us that theologian’s dream reveals the old men are trying to show the dreamer how good and evil function together, and presumably to help answer an unresolved moral conflict within the Christian psyche (p.36). Jung writes:
“Modern man, in experiencing this archetype, comes to know that the most ancient form of thinking is an autonomous activity whose object he is. Hermes Trismegistus or the Thoth of Hermetic literature, Orpheus, the Poimandres (shepherd of men) and his near relation the Poison of Hermes, are formulations of the sam experience. (p.37)” (Note: Hermes Trismegistus was credited with tens of thousands of highly esteemed writings, which were reputed to be of immense antiquity. Plato‘s Timaeus and Critias state that in the temple of Neithat Saisthere were secret halls containing historical records which had been kept for 9,000 years. — Wikipedia)
If the name ‘Lucifer’ were not prejudicial, it would be a very suitable one for this archetype. But, I have been content to call it the Archetype of the Wise Old Manor Meaning. Like all archetypes it has a positive and a negative aspect, though I don’t want to enter into this here. The reader will find a detailed exposition of the two-facedness of the wise old man in The Phenomenology of the Spirit in Fairytales.
The three archetypes so far discussed—the shadow, the anima, and the wise old man—are of a kind that can be directly experienced in personified form [that is we very easily project them onto other human beings or animals or things in nature]. In the foregoing I tried to indicate the general psychological conditions in which such an experience arises. But what I conveyed were only abstract generalizations. One could, or rather should, really give a description of the process the archetypes appear as active personalities in dreams and fantasies. But the process itself involved another class of archetypes that one could call the Archetypes of Transformation.”
Just like the post from This Ruthless World, Jung is advising us to pay attention to the stuff in the shadow and to sink into the place where wisdom whispers for to not do so is at one’s own conscious-spiritual peril. Thus, I think I’ve come full circle from where I started with my dream that said “the sea is within”—the sea I am floating on now as I try to find new conscious structures that might instill new meaning and purpose to what was shattered. But, will it be enough to survive what’s coming next? Just like poor Larry Gopnick in A Serious Man, which begins with him teaching his physics students about Schrodinger’s cat; it ends with this same puzzle—does Larry and his son live or die after the tornado? We don’t know, and we won’t know until we look inside the box. Or perhaps more appropriately, until the box is rebuilt through the process of sense-making and meaning so the journey can continue—thus the process is ever unfolding, so probably it is never done, which is another theme in the movie: bad things happen…that is life!
I originally posted this blog on my free WordPress site Sapience207 last fall. After posting it and sharing it to my Facebook page, I met Hannelie Sensemaker WorldPainter Venucia who saw this post and the thing I said about it being a piece of sense making in a chaotic time. She asked me to do an interview about my journey as a sense maker so far, and so I did, despite my journey being very heavy, sad, and challenging. Towards the end our interview, I get to hope—to the one thing that still makes sense in my world where every other frame of reference I had developed up until last year was shattered (i.e., the things I was taught about being a good person, a good worker, how the human world works). And, so I am attaching the audio of this interview and the video. Hannelie and I have continued to communicate and are seeing more of how our individual journeys to make sense of a chaotic world merge and blend. We have more creative endeavors planned both individually and together. This website is one, and Hannelie is unveiling the JOY Planet website, which is part of the Embodied Wisdom and Adventure JOY Generation Portal. I believe both web spaces are creative pools where individuals can come and where new ideas might be inspired, grow, and take flight—not just by us, but also the many who are seeking and looking for how to make positive change in a world that seems bent on going in a direction that will not sustain life much longer or human dignity for all. We need everyone Now to tell our best stories possible about ourselves and each other and the world. I believe we can. And as we heal individually and grow, we heal and help Earth heal. Thank you for your time and attention. This is your most precious resource, so much more valuable than money or the physical adornments that are possible to buy with money for only using your time and attention can you come to know the fullness and beauty of your whole self.
Recently I began to read child of the jungle — the true story of a girl caught between two worlds. My good friend, I will call him M., who lives in Germany knew I was going through a difficult time after the sudden death of my father. He said the book reminded him of me because he knew my father had been a missionary in the jungles of Brazil, which is where I was born and lived for my first three years. As I began to sink into this story, I definitely see resemblances between my early life and her life as this girl who gets caught between two worlds—though there are stark differences. For one, her father moved his family to a very remote place in West Papua, Indonesia on the island of New Guinea to live among the Fayu tribe who until then were an undiscovered people that were unknown to Westerners. Her account of her father’s first encounter with this isolated tribe and how he came to know he was being called to be with them is an incredible story that I will not recount here. Needless to say, her experiences were much more dramatic than my own, but I recognize the girl caught between worlds, and my friend was right to send me this book.
The part I wish to recount is The First War (Chapter 10, page 65). The Fayu were known to be fierce and warring people consisting of four distinct tribes within the whole of the Fayu people. From time to time, they would fight among themselves as well as band together to keep out others from their territory. It was due to one of the Fayu leaders who was tired of war and sought peace for his people that this remarkable family came to live among the Fayu who are a people most remarkable in their own way for many reasons. On this day, the girl, Sabine, was sitting around a fire with her brother and their childhood Fayu friends eating kwa (breadfruit) when the Fayu men of their village grabbed their bows and arrows and assembled at the beach as canoes landed and unknown warriors stepped out. Sabine said, “No one smiled and none of the customary courtesies were displayed.” Her father went out to greet the newcomers and tried to engage them in conversation with the bit of Fayu he had learned. For hours they talked. Then, the voices grew louder. Sabine recounts “the Fayu were standing and sitting in two groups — the men of our village on one side, the strangers on the other.” Another hour passed, and she recounts the hostility grew and the gravity of the situation thicken as the warriors gripped their bows. Her mother called her and her brother inside. Her father soon followed as the loud talk became aggressive shouting. Her father barred the door. Sabine and her brother watched from the window where now the men were all standing facing each other and screaming. She says, “Suddenly the atmosphere changed again. I felt something I had never felt before. I can best describe it as a dark, heavy and threatening. The sun was still shining brightly, but somehow it seemed darkness had descended.“
This is important. What she witnessed as a girl and so beautifully captures in her story is an incredible power we all hold as human beings. The challenge has always been how to channel and control these tremendous flows of energy when they break over our collective edges of consciousness and social norms long ago established to create peace and sustainability. This is not the same energy of the sun that powers the Earth — though the sun has long stood as a symbol of it through the ages. Rather, it is an energy that powers the human spirit, and we are the channel makers — it is up to us to recognize this energy and direct it as we choose. Her father was trying to help the Fayu warriors direct this rising tide of energy in a less violent way, but the energy was greater than him in that moment. What the warriors did next is utterly fascinating. Sabine describes it this way: “Individual men began stomping their feet. They moved in circular motions and began repeating a single word, ooh-wa, ooh-wa, ooh-wa. This was the war cry. Soon all had joined in the chanting. They faced each other, stomping the ground, arrows notched in their bows. Then they started to run in what seemed to be a pre-determined choreography. First, the two groups would run away from each other until they were about fifty yards apart. Then, they ran at each other, stopping when only a few yards separated them. More stomping would ensure, and the the war dance would be repeated.” This went on for hours! Can you imagine this? The warriors have talked for hours, then shouted for hours more, and now they dance, for hours. Even in this extreme and dangerous state, they are channeling this powerful energy — an energy left unchecked could destroy every man, woman, and child in the village. Sabine recounts how the warriors entered a trance state: their eyes glazed over and movements became stiff and robotic [they have descended into an unconscious state]. She says their voices changed as well with some becoming very deep while others grew shrill, and this continued for hours more. She remembers getting bored and going to read a book when she heard a scream of pain that pierced the chanting… then another and another… the war had begun. Time sped up. She and her brothers were kept away from the windows, and fortunately no stray arrows pierced their hut.
This recounting is amazing and incredibly important to understand for this type of energy does not occur only among primitive tribes in far off places who are considered to be uncivilized. Indeed, I would say they are highly civilized for they have learned how to collectively channel this dangerous energy — this war dance they did evolved over centuries. When the other warriors finally left, no man was left dead. Many had arrow injuries that if left untended could kill them from infection; however, the women and children and village were not destroyed despite the terrible darkness Sabine recounts feeling descended upon them all — like a destructive storm.
We have forgotten this in the West. We have forgotten we can be overcome by terrible forces rising from deep within ourselves. Our ancestors knew this and developed rituals and spiritual practices to help them navigate these forces. Of course there were still wars, and humans have done terrible things to other humans since the beginning of being human. But as human beings, we have obtained the gift of consciousness, which provides us with a powerful tool to navigate these inner storms that can rapidly overflow the collective channels we have constructed in out social systems and erupt in catastrophic and terrible ways. Consciousness gives us an offramp from destructive inner storm that rise from time to time, if we choose to use it. And, these warriors did to the best of their abilities use their consciousness to mitigate a terrible calamity that was brewing.
Mr. Rogers understood this too. Yes, I said Mr. Rogers who gave us decades of gentle and dignified children’s programming. I watched him as a child. And, I loved him until one day I had absorbed too much from my surroundings that told me Mr. Rogers was a show for babies, and he was a simple man, and I should not watch him anymore. This was a sad day, but I sneaked watching him from time to time until my life flowed in different directions.
If you watch the Mr. Rogers documentary you will see in the very beginning he plays a piano while he talks to the camera. He was a magnificent piano player and understood how difficult it was to master this instrument. While he plays, he says growing up is like playing a complex and beautiful song. Some modulations are easy to master and a child needs very little help doing so — others are very difficult and a child does better when he or she has someone who can help them until they master it. How right he was, and this idea formed a foundational piece to the television programming he was going to go on to create — the one I watched as a child!
If you have not seen Fred Rogers testimony to Congress in 1969 when PBS’s budget was on the chopping block with Senator Pastore leading the hearing, then you should watch it. By the time Fred Rogers turn came to testify, Senator Pastore had just told everyone how bored he was from all the written testimonies being read. He was not in favor of funding PBS, and it looked like the tide was going to run the other way for the newly established PBS with funding about to be revoked. This is why Fred starts out the way he does telling Senator Pastore he trusts he will read his 10 minute testimony later, but now he just wants to talk about it. Fred didn’t know what he was going to say in that moment, he had to turn on a dime, but if you watch this, I think you will get goosebumps just like Senator Pastore says he was gets as Fred talks.
At the end, he asks Senator Pastore if he can tell him some of the words to a song he sings in his program about the good feeling of control. He tells the Senator that children need to know it is there. The Senator says yes. Mr. Rogers begins: “What do you do with the mad that you feel.” He stops to tell the Senator the first line came straight from a child for he works with children with puppets and storytelling. Then, he continues, and the part I find most miraculous is this part:
It’s great to be able to stop When you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong, And be able to do something else instead And think this song:
I can stop when I want to Can stop when I wish I can stop, stop, stop any time. And what a good feeling to feel like this And know that the feeling is really mine. Know that there’s something deep inside That helps us become what we can.
He is teaching children how to channel their mad. How to stop and consider their choices. How to know they are in control and how to get in touch with another type of feeling also rising from deep inside that helps us become what we can. Every single human being on the planet has access to this place that is deep inside us and helps us become what we can. Our ancestors and the people we continue to call primitive understand this. Mr. Rogers got labeled a simple man who was not to be taken seriously by adults because he understood this. He understood depths of the human psyche few modern human beings ever come to understand today. This is partly due to the lopsided nature Western culture has adopted (see Is Collective Transformation Possible for more on this idea). Increasingly, the Western way teaches us to discount our inner realities and to pay attention solely to outer adornments that are attained by making money, leaving our inner worlds to run amok from neglect and ignorance (like unschooled, unloved children). There are spiritual practices, religions, and many pockets embedded within Western culture still paying attention to the importance of our inner worlds, but even Mr. Rogers felt the tide turning the other way towards the end of his life. After 9/11, he was asked to make a series of short messages to convey hope and understanding in the wake of this great tragedy — an event that shook people to their core, including Mr. Rogers. He was reluctant to make these promos for he said he felt he could not say much of anything that would make a difference. I suspect he felt something profound had shifted in our collective human consciousness, and despite all the good work he had done for decades, he could not stop it, and it was getting heavier and darker. But, he made them despite his feelings of inadequacy, and we are so lucky he did for we lost Fred Rogers two years later. In this clip below he says: “Look for the helpers…. there are always helpers rushing in to help in the wake of any tragedy.”
And, this takes us back to what Sabine witnessed as a child in the far off jungles of New Guinea living among the Fayu people. What she felt and how she described it as a tangible force that descended among them all with such destructive potential is something we need to understand Now. It is the same force Mr. Rogers was teaching children how to channel and control through his song. It is the same force running amok today, but on a much, much grander scale for we have become so interconnected and interdependent. Men like Sabine’s father, the leader of the Fayu tribe, Mr. Rogers, and my father are the consciousness warriors of our time. They understood what can happen when these forces do run amok. As consciousness warriors, they learned how not to use bows and arrows, but to use their consciousness and the deep spaces inside themselves where empathy, compassion, caring, and love rise eternally. By Western standards, these are weak and mostly useless emotional tools that prove inadequate to survive in the fiercely competitive economic environments we have created. The key words here is we have created, and we can create them differently by imbuing greater understanding of our fullest human capacities that are grounded in human dignity, equality, and love.
I won’t say any more about all this. I am hopelessly inadequate for the task with far fewer accomplishments than so many other great thinkers and doers who have come before me. But, if any of this has moved you as the reader, may I suggest you read the book by Sabine Kuegler: child of the jungle, watch the Mr. Rogers documentary, and read some of Carl Jung’s writings about the collective unconsciousness. Take what serves you modulated within your own vast knowing accumulated through your own experiences and spiritual, religious, and cultural practices. All I know is we need the Consciousness Warriors to rise Now… both men and women… for the war is within… the forces are as old as time… and our greatest tool is our inner light of consciousness and learning how to use it wisely just as Mr. Rogers taught us in this song What do you do with the mad that you feel?
What do you do with the mad that you feel When you feel so mad you could bite? When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong… And nothing you do seems very right?
What do you do? Do you punch a bag? Do you pound some clay or some dough? Do you round up friends for a game of tag? Or see how fast you go?
It’s great to be able to stop When you’ve planned a thing that’s wrong, And be able to do something else instead And think this song:
I can stop when I want to Can stop when I wish I can stop, stop, stop any time. And what a good feeling to feel like this And know that the feeling is really mine. Know that there’s something deep inside That helps us become what we can. For a girl can be someday a lady And a boy can be someday a man.
You can choose to walk through this splintered oak and ivy door or not.
The Narratives are shifting exponentially. Where are you standing in the midst of it? Are your feet firmly set upon the hummus, the nutrients of this Mother Earth?
Many years ago, I dreamt of the Ancestors not really knowing what they embodied but I trusted they would take me on an unexpected journey. The journey led me to living on Northern Reservation lands, cross country trips more times than I can count and back to the Ancestral lands in Eastern Slovakia near the Tatra mountains.
I believe PLACE calls you and if you really listen the Ancient Ones are always whispering in your ears. The New Ancients are the words I heard. These ones have become the voices I am painting and the stories of my Ancestors. In many ways they are reinvented cave paintings made from earth pigments and found objects to define the times we are living in now. They speak the old languages possibly the first languages and songs they flowed as sound waves when sound first reappeared. At times it feels vague like fog and other days it is so clear it is like I can see clear to the other shore. I like to think I am only a stone’s throw away from my deceased ones whom are teaching me and guiding me in this temporal place we inhabit. I feel like the languages simmer around a tarnished beloved samavar bubbling with stories that want to be told. Here earthy rye bread smothered in butter trickles down your chin, as you sip on dark black tea. Here you are at the fires of the Old Ones weaving the long-ago narratives that will help us in these times Here is where the New Ancients live.
They are welcoming us home as they were there all along.