Many things are being said about the mischief that our overly inflated Ego is doing to our world – and many are true. But we are usually being mislead: ego is an essential part of who we are, and we couldn’t exist (the way that we intend to, of course) without it. Imagine a world without education, healthcare, abundant food, science, technology, art, economy, luxury and so on – our whole civilization is being built by the ego.
It’s only harmful when it goes overboard. Big Ego stirs waves, from ripples to tsunamis, worldwide – the chaos we are currently living in. This is the kind of ego that we would want to gain awareness about, and which we should try to keep under control. But, like Donald Rumsfeld is acknowledging in the above quote, many would “do little to moderate their ego.”
Dr. Risha Joshi, mentor and coach, has a very interesting and competent point of view on this, and you can read it on his blogsite here: http://rishajoshi.com/2015/12/16/the-role-of-the-ego/
“I Can’t Afford To Hate Myself”, Says The Self-Defending Ego – Incest and Child Abuse From A Different Perspective
Only in the past two month I happened to find out about three of such situations, from people I know. It is hard to hear about it. But everyone knows that it is way harder to those directly involved. It is increasingly common to hear testimonies of parent-child ill-treatment and abuse, of past and ugly mistakes that leave unhealed wounds for years ahead, at times for a lifetime. The victim feels that it is to blame. We usually try and comfort the victim with the usual… “Well, it was long ago,” “It wasn’t your fault,” “It will pass,” etc. But the meaning and causes behind the “parent perpetrator / child victim” behavior have a life-long, time-bomb effect, and the damage is very profound, and the victims, defenseless little children no more, have yet a hard time in coming to terms with it.
Yet, in these chaotic times, the current process of evolution in consciousness we are undergoing wants the old society to be transformed, and, in order for this to happen, the ugly elements in the collective unconscious need to come out into the light of consciousness. So that they happen no more.
We may keep on asking, what makes someone (at times, the closest to you, the one that gave you life, that is supposed to protect you above all and everything) attack you physically and psychologically, you, a defenseless child? Would it be that the child is so undeserving that he, or she, deserves punishment and maltreatment? According to common sense, and to new science, a child is coming to this life totally innocent, helpless and unprepared, so it is up to us, parents, to provide to all its needs.
If, at any time along the child’s development there are reasons to believe that he/she didn’t progress well enough, or less well than expected, then it must be the parents’ fault, and not the child’s. A child may defend himself/herself ferociously against a stranger, for instance, but cannot defend against parental authority – even adults cannot defend themselves against authority (Milgram experiment)
But these are only rational speculations, while there is nothing rational in this type of behavior. Whatever the reason, it leaves indelible traces in the abused child – for life. Not for the physical damage, but for the psychological one. All our psychological wounds come from any kind of action that is being perceived as out of the norm, condemnable at the societal level. It is a long, well established religious dogma: no incestuous relations between close relatives – it may be that people were observant enough to realize that along time such relations would generate offspring less fit for survival and procreation, something that genetics discovered relatively recently. If animals, wild or domesticated, are avoiding interbreeding, there must be some evolved instinct in nature in order to discourage it.
However, humans have found their way, as usual, to go around religious and natural prohibitions: ancient Egyptians’ royalty encouraged the practice, so that it became a sort of “privilege of the gods” (pharaohs were “gods on earth”). Christianity also knows of glamorous examples (among who knows how many secret ones) like the illustrious family that gave the world three popes. “Borgia were an incestuous family”, says Giovanni Sforza about the family of his wife, Lucretia – their Vatican orgies were quite famous and in plain daylight.
There is no evidence that in these examples, people were in no way affected by the weight of their acts, on the contrary, they caused their singular ways to be seen as privileged and exclusive – who knows how many envious followers they left in their historic trace??
In our days, conventions in our society dictate that incestuous relations be prohibited and blamable – probably partly on the religious bases, partly as a natural instinct that even animals follow. How does a child, victim of such abuse, know that this is an outrageous thing, outrageous enough as to cause deep psychological trauma for a life time? Maybe the child knows it deeply, innately, the same way animals “know”. Why does the abusive parent do it? Because there must be something gone terribly wrong with him or her, something to have rendered him/her psychologically and emotionally impaired – maybe, most probably, something similar had happened to himself (or herself, as mothers and grandmothers are known to do it too).
When a person is acting this way against his/her own progeny, he, or she is doing it because he/she is deeply hurt, hateful towards self, even desperate and disgusted with oneself – and it doesn’t have to be consciously known. In fact, their biggest problem is that they are not conscious that they are so profoundly hurt, and why. They can only act blindly, repeat and mirror the reprovable behavior that caused them such painful emotions on a similarly vulnerable victim, the way they were themselves. Which makes them feel even worse: this is why they blame the victim, the child, for their own ugliness and helplessness – from here the bad words, the beating, the worsening of the abuse. This is a typical example for “projection”: a psychological term that explains how unacceptable, negative behavior is being projected, reflected on others. A liar would see that everybody is lying, a thief would claim that everybody is a thief, a stingy, avaricious man would poke fun at others for their stinginess.
I am amazed at how many brave men and women, even children, decide to speak up, let the world become aware that all these reprovable things like incest and pedophilia are happening. It is by bringing dark things to the light that dark, uncontrollable instincts lose their power and become harmless, as awareness and reason gain over emotion and instinct.
We are humans in the process of bringing light into millenia of unconsciousness and darkness – we are collectively paining in the process of transformation of the animal instinct into evolved awareness. Hard as may be, we are the transforming heroes, so that these things never happen again in the next generations.
- Polly Y. Eisendrath, James James Albert Hall, “Jung’s Self Psychology – A Constructivist Perspective” p 6
Self-Righteousness Is Trying Too Hard To Be Good – It Comes From The Collective Ego
I always think that we are trying too hard to be good. Really. Because, if we weren’t striving that much for purity, righteousness, perfection and sanctity (in the hopes of being allowed to be rambling in God’s garden), we wouldn’t do all the demented things we are doing.
It is in the name of good – God – that we practice religious mass killings. And it’s not only the “bad” religions (like ISIS is doing in the name of Islam), but let’s not forget Christianity’s strive for “goodness” in the past. Along the years, entire populations and whole continents have been enslaved, sold, exterminated by armies and missionarism. But this isn’t Religion: this is Ego.
As we cringe today at the abominable actions perpetrated, also in the name of God (but, alas, the one from a different book), we seem to be forgetful of all that terrible past now. But this is not just “past” – this is Present. The next day after the 9/11 president Bush announced the beginning of a new Crusade War, affirming his commitment to address the “evil” at its own home – in fact, he initiated the chaos that we are now witnessing in the Middle East. ISIS and the refugee crisis wold not exist if not for the 3rd millennium Crusade War, and as much as we mind the mess, imagine what those populations’ everyday lives have become.
Could it be that in real life, the mythic fight between good and evil is not that clearly cut along white and black zones? If we tried to gain some perspective, we might see that in the middle of darkness there is a pure white spot, and in the middle of whiteness, there is a pitch dark one.
Our medias keep on displaying for our hungry eyes endless, repetitive, real-life stories with horrific images. How ugly the others are, to us, the good and the right ones… But these stories ever fail to mention the western politics of separating and dissolution, of dissipation, of squandering their human and land resources… How their dictators have been selected and supported by the powers of the West, how inhumane politics were tolerated in place, in exchange for oil and other resources… how it was convenient to maintain those populations in the darkness of dogmas and madrasas, rather than pressuring their rulers for social, economic and educational reforms… The stories that media shows us are freshly cut for modern consumer’s eye; the stories fail to mention that, for ages, since the Roman Empire to today, the western slogan for the politics in the Middle East has been “divide ad impera”: divide and rule! Medias fail to tell that today’s affluent western society is built on centuries of colonization and exploitation of exactly those populations that today, exhausted by wars and famine, are crossing over the frozen and agitated seawaters on boats of fortune, to knock at the door of an indignant and frustrated West.
The epic battle between right and wrong is being enacted right now, and we are the protagonists. Let’s remember that the only time where “right” is justified is when it comes with the adjective “human”. What we are living now will be history for the coming generations – they will have the perspective to judge, let’s hope, with a more impartial eye, free of our blinding self-righteousness. What will they think of us??
- see article on The Role of The Ego here: http://rishajoshi.com/2015/12/16/the-role-of-the-ego/
Show Me My Shadow
James J. O’Donnell, author and classic scholar, tells us that “People kill because it’s the right thing to do.” And he is terribly right. Only this last Christmas, a woman in Arizona shot in the eye another woman because that one didn’t believe in God – at Christmas!
He goes on: “elected statesmen—American no less than from countries we aren’t so fond of—are no less prone to pull the trigger on killing with exact justifications based in the soundest moral arguments. We glance away nervously and mutter about exceptions. What if the exceptions are the rule?” And then he leaves us with a warning: The good guys are the bad guys. Teaching your children to do the right thing can get people killed.”
More than half-a-century ago, Jung identified our own Shadow to be the source for the problem: we never pay attention to our own flaws, to the spiderwebs in our own closets – this is a wink to those who are into psychology.
To those into religion, the Bible says: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” But maybe we pick in our religions the stuff that suits us and dispose of the rest?? Cause “there is nothing wrong about it, God would never see it anyway, if we hide it well”… or so we’d like to believe. But God, whoever, whatever this is, is not much into any spying system – it is our own soul that cannot bear hypocrisy, lying, finger-pointing, wrong-doing… because human soul has this property, it always wants to be neat and clean. Rather than being saintly, the soul would want things to be honest and straight.
So, who and what am I, the good, or the bad one?? I am the two – and seeing this is my utmost, foremost “soul assignment” in this life: seeing the log in my own eye. It is just that – but it’s so hard.
I have been watching the fear, the hatred, the suspicions, the accusations and incrimination at the coming of the Syrian and Afghan refugees in Europe and in the States. Not all of them are good people. Not all of them are genuine refugees. But the biggest majority are.
But meanwhile, for who knows, maybe 0,0001 % of the infiltrated bad ones, Europe is radicalizing its policies, all like the US: we may be testimonies to the process of electing an American president not because he may be the best man for the job, but because he is the one most skilled at scaring the frightened child inside us.
There has been another president before who declared a new “Crusade War” to the Middle East. And he didn’t hesitate, he went for it: what we are living now is just the aftermath. If a new president will follow in his footsteps, we are going to live a new edition, the “Crusade War Two”.
And, the aftermath to that…?? The aftermath to that wold be total Chaos, if this one we are living now was not enough.
Finally, rather than deliberating whether “They are good” or “They are bad”, a change of pronoun may help enormously: “I am good” or “I am bad”.
The Bible didn’t say: “see the log in your eye” and mend it. Just seeing, becoming aware of it would be equal to fixing it and accepting that”I am good” and “I am bad”. Maybe if I see my own dark corners I won’t be that ready to throw stones at another fellow human being?
Deppression: Chaos In and Out – “Have You Lost Your Mind??” “No, I Have Only Now Recovered It”- The Role that Chaos Is Playing in Our Lives
Depression, Why Are You Coming Into My Life?
Why Me, Depression? Are you here to harm me??
During years 2000 and 2007 (more or less) I was grappling with shadows in the depths of depression; at the time I didn’t know what depression was, I didn’t see any psychoanalyst and I was convinced that That Was It, I mean, the end of me.
Maybe the worst part of it was that nothing made any sense; I had no idea what, and why all this was happening to me. From the perspective I have now on things, I realize that my depression was in fact the outcome of a powerful inner struggle for clarity and self-knowledge, fueled by my gasping for outside validation, acceptance and acknowledgment; in short, I wasn’t quite “fitting in”, neither in my own vision of myself, nor in the outsiders’ view.
But why would anything like this happen to anyone? Is it a downgrading of the personality? Is it a disease – and if so, what is there that it’s sick, the mind … the brain? The soul? Is it a heavenly punishment for nobody knows what personal, or “original sin”, ancestral mistake of our fathers’ fathers – good to know in case you are a believer??
If religion would attribute all our ills and evils to some sinful nature (see “original sin”), scientists still grapple in the dark. One evolutionary theory attributes the finality of depression to nature’s programs: to help select or restructure next generations’ DNA for better adaptive features – not unlike Darwin’s “survival of the fittest”(*see: Fumagalli, M. et al. Signatures of environmental genetic adaptation pinpoint pathogens as the main selective pressure through human evolution: http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetics/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgen.1002355).
But then, view that countless people have come out of it without the use of medication, what are the mechanisms in and out of depression ?
We are “social animals”. In my own case, depression wasn’t triggered either by my own feelings of inadequacy alone, or by the image which outsiders, I thought, may have held of me, but it was rather a combination of the two, in a closed loop of cause and effect. Whether everyone with depression is aware of this one mechanism or not, it is always true that our inner picture reflects what others project on us, and the outer picture – the one that others form of us, is itself a mirror of how we see ourselves.
And this yet would be an oversimplification, as it shows just a short segment of our cause-and-effect type of reality. Whatever we feel that we are at any point in life is just a construct that we make based on all our previous lived experiences.
Daniel Kahneman (https://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_kahneman_the_riddle_of_experience_vs_memory/transcript?language=en) has successfully argued on how our self-image is not made of objective memories, but it is, in fact, our subjective interpretation of those experiences.
It could be that, back in my childhood, my mother didn’t give me that last pancake, but gave it to my little brother because she had nothing else left to feed him, while I was supposed to go have my breakfast at the school cafeteria – meaning not at all that my mother stopped loving me and gave all of her love to the newest baby (yea, I agree, too many times mothers do fall into that ancient mammalian instinct of shunning the older baby so that she can provide for the new, helpless one).
It is also true that lots of people fall into depression unexpectedly, unable to see any possible reason that may justify all that terrible fall into darkness. Midlife crisis, if one didn’t know depression before, is sure to come and shake all the solid ground on which an individual has carefully built his whole personality. It is so unavoidable that it is lately seen just as a normal, necessary period of transition from youth’s folly to the appeasement of mature age. If so, why not embrace it?
Midlife Crisis – Time for Transition
When things get stale, when you start growing mold on your soul, it is time for change – want it or not, chaos will come.
They say that depression is often triggered by the midlife crisis, that creeps into your life always unexpected, and, surely, uninvited. I believe in that; I am the active type, the one that looks for and accepts challenges, so I was struggling at the time to achieve more, do more and conquer yet other peaks and heights. It is then that we quit our job impulsively, quit a long-loved spouse, decide to leave everything behind to start a new life, go battle own demons, etc, etc… .
In our quest for happiness we all start from the false premises that this or that thing or achievement will make us happy – we never seem to realize how fast after the realization of our goal, it almost suddenly loses its initial appeal and significance. Or, if we do, we don’t seem to care, because we immediately start aiming for a new one, just to keep going, in a perpetual “chasing the carrot” type of journey.
It’s been established as a routine fact that, at some point in life, the questions begin pounding with ever more persistence: “What is the meaning of it all??”, “Who am I, and what am I doing here?” If all this wasn’t already hard enough for those with faith, it is way harder to get your answers when you are traveling on your own, when there’s no God in sight to agent it, to guide or to support you.
When this happened to me, I didn’t know of any symptom questions or routine signs – I fell in it totally, blindly – I was trying to make myself a place and find recognition inside a culture that was not mine, among people that would perceive me, at least unconsciously, that I didn’t belong – but don’t we all do that to our own “strangers”??
I now recognize how I just fitted perfectly in the pattern: after having been teaching at the same school for nine years, I suddenly decided to quit, on the spur of the moment (sudden bouts of anger are my driving engine), realizing that the school owner and principal would never keep promises and would never allow me to move forward.
Leave the safety of a relatively easy, unchallenging job, for God knows what new challenges must have sounded stupid, I know. It was an especially risky move on my part, due to the unfavorable time and place, inside a culture that was not mine, and not particularly open to foreigners, particularly to those coming from the eastern, ex-communist bloc. Some people around me rightfully asked: “Have you lost your mind??”
That was the step of a Fool, I acknowledge.
The Fool – That I Was, And Still Hope to Remain
Be a Fool – it’s not dangerous: “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”
I had no idea of arcanas, fools and journeys at the time – far less of archetypes playing defining roles into our lives. My mindset at the time was as aligned to the mainstream as possible: within the “right” materialist-scientific worldview no “esoteric” or “obscure mysteries” could enter my impermeable mind.
But if I choose today to speak with quasi authority on the field of Tarot is my encounter (through his work, at least) with a cutting-edge physicist and specialist in System Sciences. In his book, Genesis of The Cosmos – The Ancient Science of Continuous Creation, PhD Paul La Violette finds amazing parallels between ancient Egypt history, ancient myths and system sciences.
Through his book he is guiding the reader into the realization that some cutting edge scientific principles reflect ancient knowledge kept hidden for eras as utmost spiritual truth – the most guarded occult mysteries. For the first time, due my previous familiarity with the history of religions and compared mythology, I sensed how ancient myths and symbols began glittering with their own light. Could it be that, what mainstream science used to see as “mystical, supernatural, magical powers, practices, or phenomena”, can enter the domain of scientific theory, due to 21st century advances in scientific discovery ?
I was already knowledgeable in the domain of ancient, compared religions and mythology, but the idea never crossed my mind that all those things could be something more than gibberish, not worthy to be told even to little children – I got them just as required studies. But I was in to learn much more: that general, universal truths have been coded and preserved, in the intention of those advanced enough as to grasp, seize and understand an unfathomed, advanced view on the true reality.
Truths are being hidden, suggested or disguised in the allegories and the metaphors of ancient texts, myths, stories, rituals, and none of these had any chance of being scarcely understood before the 20th century advances in quantum physics and mechanics, before the advent of chaos – catastrophe theory and system sciences.
In the Tarot system the Fool is the protagonist of a story that is right about to begin, and as such, it is the zero-point card of the Major Arcana (from here the arcane: known or understood by very few; mysterious; secret; obscure; esoteric”), a number of 21 cards, or images representing human archetypes or instances along a schematic, spiritual journey, “the path to spiritual awareness”. The cards mark, or depict, “the various stages we encounter as we search for greater meaning and understanding” along our own journey.
Unknowingly, the path I just initiated was marked by the Fool, and my journey ahead, designated in Tarot language as the “Fool’s Journey”, was to be a journey of discovery and initiation.
The journey is guided by the main human archetypes (Gr: archein, “original or old”; and typos, “pattern, model or type”) that will pop up at diverse stages through dreams or other means. They may stand for real people and real-life events that will prompt you to the next stage or the next leg of the journey, or they may only appear as symbols signaled by the unconscious – or both.
Looking back at that point in time I can realize with no difficulty that my journey effectively started exactly as described by the “Fool” card: I actually was at a turning point in my life, eager for the next stage of the journey, and, while my foot was already in the air, ready to step forward, I was totally unaware that I was on the edge of a cliff, and that the next step was going to be in the void.
What I find most intriguing is that, this process being autonomous, while it is happening to us, we are never aware of what is going on – or, at least, not consciously aware – maybe we are too engulfed into our suffering and existential pain (and who could blame us?), which renders us incapable of objectivity. We lack the necessary distance and detachment, unable to grasp the bigger picture.
From the perspective that the passage of time allows me, I can also say, although I am against the clichés and the overly used chunks of wisdom:”What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.
I am not writing this to describe the journey, but to introduce the “transformation archetype”, the one that Jung rightfully considered the major archetype that dominates our lives.
The Individuation Journey – The Journey of A Lifetime
Absorbed into the transformation archetype we are jumping into the dangerous void of our own insecurities, the realm where our demons dwell. But demons always hide the treasure of our own greatest potential.
We are all, at least once, if not repeatedly, on the point of starting a new journey: leaving home for continuing own education, marriage, a change in the workplace or a new job altogether, a major change of the living place to a new city or country, a newly declared, life-threatening medical condition, a divorce, or the loss of a dear one. Whatever the reason, at some point in life we are about to change our previous worldview and previous identity – our approach to life altogether.
One thing, increasingly common to these times, is that Crisis and Chaos comes with the destructiveness of a tornado that, once has you lifted, whirling and swirling in the void, won’t let you down until it has shattered all your previous assumptions and identifications.
But when it lets you down, you are a new you, a self-contained, stand-alone individual, capable of existing by oneself and through oneself, free from the need to please others, to follow others, to conform and comply; you finally get to be “the real you”, and be fine with it.
Under this new light, the imperative “know thyself” is not a witty, catchy phrase to enchant the ears of generations of theater-goers; it has as deep a meaning as can be. At the other end of the self-interrogation “Who am I?”, “Know thyself!” has been the highest imperative along ages, known to all those who wanted to grasp the meaning of their life. Starting at least as far back as with the ancient Eastern philosophies, it was known to Socrates and Plato, to Shakespeare, and to modern psychology today.
Swiss psychiatrist and depth psychoanalyst C.G. Jung coined the term “individuation journey” for this journey of finding oneself, the journey of transcending the Ego towards finding one’s own center, the Self.
“Jung: individuation process: a journey of personal achievement guided by myth, archetypes and symbols that aim at achieving balance between the person’s conscious and personal unconscious; the journey is figured as a spiral movement towards a center, the center of one’s personality. The journey aims at delivering the person towards its final destiny that can be plenitude and a religious integration” (Andrew Colman’s Dictionary of Psychology, Oxford)
I have found a few excerpts about Jung’s individuation on the net that I’d like to share – these are from mindstructures.com (October 07, 2012):
“According to Jungian psychology, individuation is the process of transforming one’s psyche by bringing the personal and collective unconscious into conscious.
- Individuation has a holistic healing effect on the person, both mentally and physically.
- Individuation is a process of psychological differentiation, having for its goal the development of the individual personality. In general, it is the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated; in particular, it is the development of the psychological individual as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology.
- Besides achieving physical and mental health, people who have advanced towards individuation, they tend to become harmonious, mature, responsible, they promote freedom and justice and have a good understanding about the workings of human nature and the universe.”
So, from the perspective that the passage of time is offering us, chaos and crisis in our lives may serve us well – could it be that it also takes us closer to finding the meaning, to the fulfillment and the scope of our lives??
This will be the subject for my next post.
Who says it’s hard to quit smoking, that it’s hard to lose weight, or that it’s hard to stop hating those who did you harm?
Who says those things know nothing of what hard really is. I’ve done all of them, and I find that they were by far easier than the new challenges I am facing now.
From where I stand, I would say that nothing is as hard as to:
stop showing your love to those who do not know how to let themselves be loved.
quit giving yourself, your time and energy, to those who don’t have a clue of what you are doing
stop giving freely of your energy to those who will just spill it, doing things less important than the things you could do if you had all this energy and time only for yourself
stop depriving the people you love of the possibility of learning their own lessons
No thing in the world is as hard as realizing that, with your free generosity, you only create unbalance in the give and take exchange of energy in the universe.