Archive for March 23rd, 2010
I went back into my photo archives looking for something I thought appropriate for today’s post. I was looking for perhaps a photo of a holy man, a sadhu, as I had taken quite a number of such photos while I was in India in January of 2008. But, as I wandered through the photos, I came across this one and so the choice was made easy for me. First, this is a girl child who is honouring traditions on the Ganges River as it passes the ghats in the holy city of Varanasi. This is about as far away from the title as I could possibly find. But, in a special way, it is perfect for my purposes and my thoughts.
My time in India pointed me towards what I felt were insolvable contradictions, of community holding common beliefs, of individuals in later life who seemed to live those beliefs as ascetics, as solitary individuals that were “held” within the embrace of their community, as a natural way of being. I got the feeling that there was little consciousness, even among the holy men. In fact, it seemed as though the more holy, the less conscious the condition of those holy men. They seemed to be attempting to embrace a state of nothingness. Of course, in saying all of this, I am only saying what I think, intuit, feel.
In this photo of the Ganges River at sunrise, there is a calm face of a girl whose presence tells me that all is as it should be. Though she is selling marigolds to be floated in the water of the Ganges River, a holder of the prayers of those who believe, the scene is less about commerce than it is about acceptance of the status quo in which there is no questioning of the way things are. And for myself, this both attracts me and pushes me away.
“The man who has attained consciousness of the present is solitary. The “modern” man has at all times been so, for every step towards fuller consciousness removes him further from his original, purely animal participation mystique with the herd, from submersion in a common unconsciousness in which the mass of men dwells. Even in a civilized community the people who form, psychologically speaking, the lowest stratum live in a state of unconsciousness little different from that of primitives. Those of the succeeding strata live on a level of consciousness which corresponds to the beginnings of human culture, while those of the highest stratum have a consciousness that reflects the life of the last few centuries. Only the man who is modern in our meaning of the term really lives in the present; he alone has a present-day consciousness, and he alone finds that the ways of life on those earlier levels have begun to pall on him. The values and strivings of those past worlds no longer interest him save from the historical standpoint. Thus he has become “unhistorical” in the deepest sense hand has estranged himself from the mass of men who live entirely within the bounds of tradition.” (Jung, The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Modern Man in Search of Soul, 1933)