There is an uncontrolled and uncontrollable background world from which we are all born and out of which we motivate our lives. It is only through self-reflection, the art of transcending our conscious selves that we can discover a psychological resilience the likes of which the vast majority of people have never known or even knew was possible.
This is the art of reflecting on our experiences instead of being caught up in them. To do this we need to gain some distance from them. For example, we can experience being depressed and become so wrapped up in the experience that it’s like being caught in a never ending maze where we seem to wander aimlessly forever.
But transforming the experience from one of “being” depressed to the depression as being a signal that our approach to life has been outgrown and that a new approach needs to be developed can take us outside the experience and allow for a new perspective and change.
In short, by being our symptoms you can become lost, but by using the symptoms as signals of the psyche’s attempt to heal itself we can transcend, step out of, the maze of symptoms if only for a few moments but that few moments lets us know that there is an outside. As with everything else the symptoms aren’t what’s causing the imbalance e.g. depression, fear, anger they are only indicators that an imbalance exists. Too often we get caught up in our ego needs and forget that we are actually creatures of a much greater background world.
When we act as though we are our symptoms (fear, anxiety, depression, anger, powerlessness, jealousy, envy, etc.) we automatically try to avoid or cast out the demon. In other words, we try to reject rather than go into relationship with the symptom.
When we reject our feelings, our thoughts, or our unwanted memories we send the pains they cause into the dark cellars of our unconscious mind where they can fester and source all kinds of mischief in our lives. The art of reflection is the first step into dealing with our imbalances directly and one of the best ways of reflecting on our inner self is through the analysis of dreams. It is through our dreams that we can connect with that background world from which we all come.
In the dream it is the soul that reflects on itself while the ego sleeps rather than the daytime reflections of the ego upon itself that rarely produce any useful insight.
It’s been said that men have difficulty dealing with and expressing their emotions and that women for the most part operate on a much more emotional plane. One of the biggest complaints women have in their relationships with men is how the man won’t talk– translated as he won’t share himself emotionally.
This condition can be extrapolated to the whole society as well. In a patriarchal society, a society where everyone is measured by success and productivity, bottled up emotion becomes the norm.
Women in the western cultures are slowly moving toward parity and that’s a good thing, but it doesn’t mean that the feminine aspect is being treated equally. This is because when women gain parity in a patriarchal society they are only gaining equality at the level of the masculinized culture of productivity and success i.e. they become more like the men in terms of their soul expression.
The cost is a continued loss of the feminine aspects for both genders. This creates an imbalance of too much yang and too little yin that causes psychic wounds with little ability to heal them i.e. it’s the feminine yin that heals.
The other day I heard a conversation amongst a number of men as to why there are fewer men attending church, “It’s because the language of the church is too feminine. Too many words deal with love, compassion and caring. This just doesn’t relate to me.” Said one of the men. The rest of the conversation seemed to be centered around the need to masculinize the church language so that religion would become more relevant to the men.
I was appalled by this conversation. Church is the one place where the feminine aspect can be expressed and acted upon and they want to transform it into something more masculine. More masculine? Have we forgotten the Inquisition? What about witch burnings, holy wars, tar and feathering, obedience of the wife to the husband, a woman’s place is in the home, shaming, second-class citizens, chattel and Scarlet Letters? Is this what we want to return to? I would suggest that most rational, spiritual, and God centered people would say NO.
How about men learning to be more introspective and honor the less dominant aspects of their nature? How about men learning to bring greater psychological balance to their every day consciousness? How about women being women and striving to add compassion, full expression and creative intuition to the mix instead of suppressing this so that they can compete?
We all swim together in a cultural sea that seems to see material happiness as the only goal. This is a limited perception of what life is about, of what our true abilities are and more often than not leads to unhappiness.
We sell ourselves short. We have incredible potential when we are in balance with both our natures– the masculine and the feminine. But we have to have a vision greater than the everyday myopia of the current culture.
As a people all over the world we have suppressed, distorted, denied, hidden, and forbidden parts of our nature. This has led to a universal neuroses e.g. easily prone to anxiety attacks, hysteria (OMG there’s measles, Ebola, avian and swine flu, etc., etc.) phobias, depression, and a distorted way of looking at the world (note how much money we spend on diets, fashion, Botox, products for looking good, entertainment).
The definition of a neurosis is: “poor ability to adapt to one’s environment, an inability to change one’s life patterns, and the inability to develop a richer, more complex, more satisfying personality.”*
We have this idealized image, some say fantasy, of ourselves developed over time and with the help of our parents and society. All too often this image is a pretense meant to protect the individual and society from what it fears e.g. being out of control.
But most of the time it doesn’t reconcile with reality, of who we really are and this brings about individual and mass insecurity and no matter what we do to try to feel safe, nothing really works. So most of our human activities are centered around feeling safe e.g. military and paramilitary (police, guards, DEA, ATF, TSA, homeland security, oh yes and walls and guns, etc.). Budgets for all this so-called security make up the vast majority of our expenditures.
In our sometime embrace of the extremes of human behavior we demean our humanity and lose our souls. The real threat to security reveals itself when we reject the center where we move our divergent aspects together and bring balance to our rigid positions and in this rejection stray toward the opposite extremes.
What gets lost is love and the ability to live up to into our real potential. All this because we refuse to acknowledge and integrate our conflicting natures.
In earlier blogs I have discussed the role of the archetypical symbols inherent in dreams. Carl Jung believed that an inherent dichotomy or dualist quality exists with human beings, if not all reality and that to lean too much one way or the other, that is to allow one aspect to dominate its opposite aspect, will create a destructive imbalance.
In short, Jung believed that what was needed in the world was balance between these dualist opposites. Because the world is dualistic, meaning for every A there’s a B, Masculine/feminine, up/down, conscious/unconscious, spirit/body, soul/ego, light/dark, or intuition/knowledge, or liberal/conservative. Existence of one suggests the existence of its opposite i.e. they generate each other and cannot exist alone.
One of Jung’s favorite oppositions was the masculine/feminine (most likely one of yours as well). He used two mythical figures to describe these traits, Eros for the feminine and Logos for the masculine. Eros represents the intuitive, feeling (including mood), relationship, caring and playfulness. Logos represents logic, progress, reason, knowledge, and order. The world has for sometime been overwhelmed by a masculine dominated ego that has looked upon the emotional feminine as representing chaos and therefore the need for controlling it.
However, within each man is a feminine aspect that allows him to express the characteristics of caring, inclusiveness, thoughtfulness, emotional attachment and intuition. The more “masculine” (controlled by his masculine traits) a man becomes, and the more he represses his Eros qualities, the more likely that he will become unbalanced and fall prey to a lack of objectivity, literally losing touch with the “reality” he holds so dear. Hurt easily turns to anger and resentment because he can no longer see the reality. Contentment and security weakens and the overly masculine male begins to control his external world in ever increasingly violent ways. He is also cut off from meaning and is then forced to look for it in very bizarre ways e.g. through over-control, domination, drinking, lying, drugs, fighting, hyper-sexuality, and/or indulging in risky behaviors.
Women who are cut off from their masculinity frequently connect with men who show enough masculinity to compensate for their loss and will put up with a lot of abuse so as to not lose this compensating link with what they lack. This lack also may reinforce a woman’s greater attachment to family and home and suppress the urge to go outside the home to get her needs met, thus imprisoning her.
On the collective (national, worldwide) level*, this imbalance seems to create an environment where men are dominant and women submissive. But both are unsatisfied in the arrangement. When unsatisfied (unbalanced), the male usually ups the masculine gradient for he knows little else and because, for him, the inner world either doesn’t exist, or is to be feared, so he tries to master his lack of satisfaction by controlling the outer world, through force and manipulation. The female does the same often through passive force and manipulation.
So we’re all running around in a world searching for satisfaction, i.e. happiness, in all the wrong places and desperately trying to gain it through manipulation of the world around us. This is what happens when you leave everything up to the ego by detaching yourself from the spirit/soul. This is what happens when you cut yourself off from your opposite aspects. This is what happens when you treat half of yourself unequally.
You can’t find happiness through domination and control, or their
opposites: avoid-domination and avoid-control!
Happiness has the greatest success of being found through a personality that has discovered its opposite and has learned to integrate it into a whole and then project this wholeness into its relationships with others.
My book The Archipelago of Dreams: The Island of the Dream Healer is a story about the imbalance in mankind and how one man finds an entry into the mysterious world of the Dream. Forced to let go of his Being he enters the Otherworld of the Spirit where at the potential cost of his life he will be challenged to right the imbalance and set a new course for mankind.