Archive for the ‘authority’ tag
Another recent photo taken in HongMei Park finds its way into the blog. The image of the Tianning Pagoda in the background is one of two distinctive skyline symbols for the city with the second being the China Dinosaur Park structure in the northern part of the city. Both presences reach up and have an attitude of authority, a patriarchal presence.
It seems that no matter what one looks at, there is a large presence in the background, sometimes not always overtly visible, but there non-the-less. I have been spending a good amount of time focused on the election debates and controversies happening in Canada. What is not often stated are the visions and foundational beliefs – the towering principles – behind the chatter. It is hard to sift through the chatter in order to make informed decisions. It is much easier to focus on the noise and accept the chatter as truth and as the vision. It’s hard work to dig where major efforts and money is focused on avoiding exposure. Shadow doesn’t like being exposed, doesn’t like transparency.
In many ways, this is what happens at the individual level. One is often so wrapped up in the little things, one has no time or energy for doing the real work of becoming more conscious. One begins to believe that an accumulation of facts and trivia becomes consciousness. And as a result, one often finds oneself to be a victim as there are too many facts, too much trivia to be held, acknowledged. One is left chasing data in the outer world at the expense of getting to know one’s self better.
I am continuing to draw on the photographs taken at Angkor Wat. Though built by man, this is a place that can best be described as a place of the gods and spirits of a time long past. But of course, these gods and spirits didn’t exist, nor did they make Angkor Wat their home. Angkor Wat was a place built by man, for a man, for his throne and his tomb. It was built as a Hindu temple with the thought that all would associate this man with the Hindu god, Vishnu. Temples such as Angkor Wat are vivid expressions of a human living and acting out of the unconscious. The self becomes consumed by a larger, darker thing, the collective unconscious.
“The world of gods and spirits is truly ‘nothing but’ the collective unconscious inside me.” (Jung, CW 12, par. 857)
There is a wonder within me about those men who managed to have their societies accept them as more than human, as beings who are the gods revealed as men. Many modern men have no problem believing in the gods (or a singular god); nor do modern men have a problem positioning themselves as superlative beings in comparison to the people of their country and generation in order to accept the public acclaim and rewards of being godlings. Riches, fame and adoration are theirs and the ordinary man who sits under the skin of these modern day godlings have been usurped by the collective shadow. There is no way that they could have ascended to the thrones as godlings without the willingness of the collective to have them as holders of their projections, their need to have the gods revealed.
One has to live in the dark, with a low level of consciousness, to both give their power to another and for that other to hold that power. When consciousness begins to grow and the projections of collective and personal unconsciousness begin to be withdrawn, there is a sense of dis-ease with the reality that had grown out of living unconsciously. We see this today in Arab world. Projections are being withdrawn and personal power is being reclaimed. Yet, this is just the first steps. Will those who are reclaiming their personal power give it up to a new godling, even if that godling is an idea?
I want to draw on the situation in my own country, Canada. It seems to be a quiet place where there appears to be fewer projections running unchecked. A democratic form of government enables personal power to be exercised with some regularity. Yet, all is not what it appears on the outside. The leader of government has unfortunately begun to believe that he is above those whom he leads. What is more disquieting is the fact that many have given up their power of thought and discrimination and now believe all that he says without question. Canada is not a big country in terms of people, nor does it have significant power in the affairs of a global society. Thankfully, the majority of Canadians haven’t given up their power to this new face of the collective unconscious, at least not yet.
My point in making these comments isn’t to make a political statement about Canada and its leader, or about the Arab world and the unrest there as people rise and say they have had enough of living in a shadow world of the collective unconscious. The point I am trying to highlight is that Angkor Wat, the Great Wall, the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal and any other man-made marvel; as well as the religions and governance systems that feed on people giving up personal authority, exist because of unconsciousness, projected collective unconsciousness.
Withdrawing the projections, one must become responsible, self responsible. In this state of being, there is no “other” to blame, to carry the scapegoat, to carry the shadow. One must own it all. When this happens, tyranny cannot exist within the community, for no one will follow.
One of the differences I saw between Laos and Cambodia was in the choice of umbrellas for the Buddhist monks and novices. In Luang Prabang, Laos the monks used black umbrellas, a fact that is captured on many canvases, postcards and other tourist items. In Cambodia, it seems that saffron is the colour of choice. That said, this photo wasn’t chosen because of this bit of trivia. While living and travelling in Asia, I find that I have a certain fascination with monks. The four weeks in IndoChina found my “lens” filled with images of monks, a contrast with China where monks are not frequently seen other than immediately around Buddhist temples.
I’ve often wondered about whether or not I would have ever chosen the life of a monk, or if I would do so in the future if I found myself alone due to some circumstance or other. There is an appeal to a life of contemplation, a life of holiness. Yet, I wonder if, for me, the temple would be a place for contemplation and holiness. I somehow think that the reality of temple life and the structure of a religion would work against what I perceive to be my journey of individuation. And, I know that I can only speak of my journey and not judge the paths taken by others.
In this photo, the young monk, who I presume would be a novice, is being the object of another’s spiritual outpouring. He is the container in which the young woman projects her prayer. His journey is to gather offerings for the collective of monks as well as for the most desperate who feed off the leftovers of the monks. There is a curious dance of needs in the process. In a way, it makes me think of the dance of archetypes and shadows from the unconscious being brought into the lens of the outer world where people become the faces of the archetypes. How much of this is conscious intention on the part of the monk or the others that are in his orbit? I would guess that none are operating with conscious intention but rather out of superstition, out of spiritual need.
I wonder how much of this I do, that is being unconscious of the acting out of shadow, the faces of archetypes, in the outer world? I sometimes become aware of it after the fact when I see shock or surprise in the eyes of others who become the projected recipients. Because I know that I have a shadow that isn’t afraid of the light, I tread a bit more gently when interacting with the world, always with a sideways glance over my shoulder to check out if the numinous faces of archetypes are trying to put in an appearance without my acknowledged permission.
I used to revel in the role of authority, now I resist it as much as possible. As an authority, I was no better than any other authority. I became full of myself, swollen with a mana personality. I thought I knew best, was wiser than others around me and that it would be better for others if they would only follow my lead. Now, I know that it would be a mistake for even one person to follow me. It is more than enough that I find my own path which is a path that can only hold my self. That is the call to individuation.
I was being driven to view vegetable farming in a village near Hoi An when I say these three boats in the river. I managed to get the guide to have the driver stop so that I could take this photo. Though it seemed to crimp on the guide’s agenda and time, I finally got me way and walked back to the scene above. It only takes a bit of courage to say no to one’s guide when the guide forgets that it isn’t about the guide.
Sometimes, perhaps even often, this is the problem with counselling and therapy, the agenda is about meeting the needs of the service provider, than it is about meeting the needs of the one who comes for help and guidance. In seeking out a guide, one shouldn’t give up one’s autonomy and one’s ability to think for oneself and make decisions. One’s counsellor, therapist, analyst or shrink is not a god.
Okay, that small rant is over. I sometimes get heated because others want control that doesn’t belong to them, such as the guide that would have not stopped for me to take this photo.
I went looking for a photo in my archives, one that would suggest presence under the ego-self, and I found this one of fish swimming in one of the pools of one of the many parks in Changzhou. The idea I have in mind is one of “acknowledging” that there is energy beneath the conscious surface of our lives. I think that most of us “fear” that which is hidden in the murky darkness that lies beneath our conscious awareness of self. That fear prevents most of us from “connecting” with that inner shadow world. Many of us look to something to divert our attention from the shadow-land; television, exercise, sex, eating, travelling, work, drugs, alcohol – the list is endless. The objective is to hone in on the “real” world and hope that the shadows and the figures in the shadow-land disappear as if just a bad dream, a nightmare. Yet, a few dare to turn around and look back into the shadows and acknowledge the energy that lurks there.
“. . . the great god Fear, a god who holds sway over many a soul. Who cannot identify this god will end by being governed by it unconsciously. . . . To personify the god is to acknowledge that it is not only powerful but that one can come into some sort of conscious relationship to it. The god Fear, unacknowledged becomes a tyrannical murderer. To personify the god brings the possibility of assimilating the contents into consciousness and thereby removing their demonic power. When a person is in the grips of the demonic, and the crowd reinforces that energy, the ordinary individual has little purchase on consciousness.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 96)
Over the past two days a new story has come out of Arizona, or rather an old story that has taken on a new look. The god, Fear, erupted into presence as a number of people were killed and more injured in a politically charged arena. No one is listening as the rhetoric of polarity politics rages. The same god, Fear, is seen in the churches, in the government chambers, in the actions of nations “standing on guard” with weapons ready. The same god, Fear, has convinced people to give up freedom on thought and expression in schools in order to ensure that only the “right” words are spoken to our children, words that deny other ideas, other beliefs.
I have to admit that I am sorely tempted to join the activated and heated yelling in hopes that someone will listen and change their minds about the “right to bear arms” as those arms are used to kill, to punish, to threaten. But, I know that one can only hear when one is ready. To rail uselessly only provokes a demonic response. Read again the reports that came out of the medicare debates in the U.S.A. and you will see what I am talking about.
I see Fear working his magic here in China. This isn’t about one country, but about humans not acknowledging the shadow within and thus falling into the role of projecting the demon onto others. Mob mentality feeds on this. Watching the world, I am not the happiest of campers.
On one of my innumerable walks, I passed by a new housing community that featured about a dozen skyscraper high rises and a collection of two and three story complexes and homes. Standing at the edge of the community was a short two story building that was like a miniature castle. It wasn’t a home, though. I saw this tiny thing as quite pretentious in its location. One would have expected it to be the tallest of the structures rather than one of the shortest buildings.
The image taken and then left on the computer with other photos from the walk, it was soon forgotten. Then, while looking for a specific photo, I saw this one again and decided that it had something in it that merited another study. So, I cropped it to see what emerged. The first thing to stand out was the phallic symbol. Ah-ha, a photo for the series of posts that I want to do on the theme of the masculine. I then left the image on my desktop screen until I could place it in its appropriate folder that I have set up for the images that might be useful for the theme. yet, I never did drag the photo to the folder and it stayed on the desktop staring at me.
Today, I began to think of writing my blog post after checking my morning e-mail and reading my Twitter and Facebook pages in order to see how family and friends were doing. Before deciding on today’s topic, I somehow chose this image to be here.. I trusted that the words would find their way here. Besides, I could always change the image later. Then, I turned to Mythologems and soon found the reason why this photo belongs here:
“Looked at archetypally, a god is the image that arises out of a depth experience, an encounter with a mystery. For this reason, divinity is always renewing itself. How could it possibly be fixed? It is energy, not image. The image is only the transient husk of divinity. Divinity floods the husk, renders it numinous, and when the human ego seeks to fix it, worship it and constrict it in service to its own ego security agenda, the god “dies,” which is to say, leaves the husk to reincarnate elsewhere. This is the meaning of the “death of a god” motif, which may be found in the ancient mythologies of all peoples, long before Nietzsche’s mid-nineteenth-century pronouncement.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 91)
The phallic imagery in these words “fit” the image I have brought here. Of course, I don’t equate “god” with “phallos,” but I do see the metaphor of being filled and being emptied, about being a “husk” and about worshiping the image instead of the energy. It has to come back to the energy. The mating of self and other in which both are “filled” to create a holy marriage followed by a small “death,” that is part of the imagery. It isn’t the swollen membrane that deserves worship, if one must worship, it isn’t the holder of the energy be it a penis, Allah, Yaweh, Baha u llah, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius or whoever; it is the energy which gave rise to these holders of the energy that one must honour. For me, it is about honouring and not worshiping the energy that arises from the depths, a place where “self” and “Self” become one.
I was lucky to get this shot of a magpie which had perched up high on an electrical tower here in Changzhou. I see these nests of twigs every so often, but have never seen a bird near them before. Perhaps I am too focused on things closer to the ground. That is often the problem that I share with so many, having my attention not look up. I know that the balance of the psyche and soul demands that there be an up as well as a down.
Somehow, it is so much easier to follow the journey that descends into darkness, and once there, just give up at the immensity of the task before us of continuing the journey’s cycle that would take us upward into light. For so many, the eyes refuse to look up and acknowledge the next stage. Rather, one gets stuck and feels that this is exactly what one deserves for all the pain and darkness one has given to the world. One can’t see anymore the other gifts one has also given, the light and the hope and the moments of unconditional love and acceptance of others, and toward others. One accepts katabasis, the movement downward. The movement downward is one that just happens to most, not a movement consciously chosen. For these people, one is not a hero, one is a victim.
The descent may of course end in stasis, in dissolution and defeat. The cycle demands an ascent, a going up in order to bring the gift into consciousness. Even those dreams or life experiences which pull us under have gifts, although we may not recognize them at the time. We may even reject their message when they become conscious.” (Hollis, Mythologems, pp 75-76)
Anabasis, the journey upward bearing gifts for the conscious self, and probably more importantly, for the collective with which we interact.
I am often asked what we can do as a collective to affect positive change in the collective. The only words I can give in response are those that say “be fully your self.” These appear to be dark times for the human collective. But, the darkness isn’t all that is possible. As I engage in anabasis and as others do their work, the collective engages in an ascent. There is no other way that I can perceive.
At this time of year, the moment where the year descends into its darkness, into its death, we all have learned to celebrate a rebirth, a resurrection with the birth of a New Year. My hope is that you can take this image with you as a way of finding a way to look upward and embrace that aspect of your self.
There is a considerable amount of work going on near the apartment that has to do with power lines. Tall towers are being taken down and replaced with taller ones that hold even more power grid lines. The actual number of towers is dwindling significantly as many lines are being placed underground. The face of the city is changing in the process. A talk with one of the city’s vice-mayors let me know that the changes I have seen in the past four years are going to pale in comparison with the changes yet to come as Changzhou races to embrace modernity. This man seems happy enough with the changes. Though, looking at his situation, I wonder how he can find such a deep smile for me. I guess it is all about where he came from and what his past story was about.
Perhaps we watch too many movies and expect change to always result in “happily ever after.”
“We need to remember that what one has learned from nature, from our own encounter with the world or the psyche, may not be pleasing to the ego. And yet, such knowledge always expands our purview, and therefore our freedom. Much of what we learn of the world and its deceits will undermine our idealism. Much of what we bring back to the surface will actually make living more painful, but it will be more honest.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 77)
Freedom. Yes, freeedom; it’s another word for taking authority and responsibility for self. It doesn’t mean the absence of outside authority, the absence of the collective rules. It is about one’s relationship to the “self” in the context within which one lives. So the big question has to be, “Is it all worth it?” Of course, I can only speak for myself with any authority, “Yes.” As I write these words, the lyrics from a Kris Kristofferson song comes to mind, “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Stripped of all the tinsel, what is basic and simple, not all shiny and glittery.
One gives up on the projections foisted upon others, on community and on the “others” at distance who have carried our darkness. I guess it could be likened to taking down the Christmas decorations where one sees the bareness, the warts and all, of who lies beneath all of the masks and mirrors with which one has lived with self and others. There is something to smile about, just as this older man has learned, when the falseness has been stripped away and one is left with “self.” The freedom to be oneself rather than to carry the weight of masks and mirrors is worth the journey in my opinion.
Now for the real challenge. Shall I dare to move toward a more authentic life? Do I have a real choice? Do you? To deny the journey will shrivel my soul. And if my soul shrivels, so does the soul of the collective. With that said, I wish each of you, my readers, a Happy New Year. Dare to be you! You deserve it, I deserve it, our planet is desperate for this.
“Each of us has a so-called masculine task, and each of us has a so-called feminine task. If our minds call up too literal a picture of these tasks, we may be ensnared either in imitation or adolescent rebellion. If we see them as the twin embodiments of life’s forms and dynamisms, we gain an enormous sense of the archetypal task before us. Our summons is both to be and to do; it is to nurture and to define; it is to be at home and to journey. If historically these energies and these tasks were delimited to specific genders, then everyone suffered an oppression of some vital part of themselves. Still, even for those who live in a deconstructionist age and can discern the mark of local time and place on such categories as gender, the ancient tasks remain to be lived in their timeless ways. (Hollis, Mythologems, pp 56-57)
Perhaps you can already see why I chose this photo for this post now that you have read the quote from Hollis. There is differentiation between the masculine and the feminine, but both come from the same root, the same source. Like these two leaves on a tree, separate but with neither able to exist without the source tree rooted in an even larger field, the archetypes exist separately within us individually and within us as a species. If anything, the archetypes are what have inspired us to be more than just another animal species that simply exist to procreate and keep the species from extinction.
The question of “WHY?” has always haunted me. From the early years of my life I have been on a journey of finding meaning an purpose for my own existence. Of course that has often had me ask the same question about the human race as a collective. ”Why? Why do we even exist?” Are we here, as biological entities in a drama of life and death that has the singular task of ensuring that future generations will come to be present? Is right and wrong only a question of what will allow survival of the individual and the species? I have never found an answer in the outer world regardless of how many courses, certificates, degrees or diplomas I have amassed. No answers came from books or from asking anyone who would sit still long enough to hear the questions.
Yet, when I finally dared to listen to an almost inaudible voice that came from something, someplace that was just outside of reality as I knew it, I began to sense there were answers. Or perhaps, better questions to be asked. Turning to inner spaces, to inner urges, I began to accept that all wasn’t to be found in the outer world. And so began a journey that I still find myself following. My dreams, and the resonances that ring within me through the voices of others let me know that there is more than just being and doing as a human animal. I am pulled into being and doing that demands more from me. For me, it is about becoming “whole” through acknowledging the vast unknown world of psyche and soul.
The journey has me battle the Great Mother and the Great Father, not so that I defeat these, but so that I can come to terms that their authority is my authority, that I am both of them. That knowledge doesn’t mean that I have more power over others, but that I am not a victim of my own darkness. At some point I will learn to love unconditionally – love myself and others. At some point the gymnastics of trying to bend myself out of shape or trying to bend others to fit my needs will be abandoned allowing me to be at ease with myself and with others. This is my archetypal task.
I chose black and white to go with this image. Because of depth of field being narrow, the moon came out as very faint and fuzzy. I have quite a few much better and clearer images of the moon from yesterday afternoon and evening, but this is the one that makes the cut for this post. Why? Because the moon is “faint” in appearance. This view speaks to me of the “numinous.” One knows the presence is there though that knowledge is fuzzy, an archetypal presence. The moon is associated with the feminine, or the mother.
“I attribute to the personal mother only a limited etiological significance. That is to say, all those influences which the literature describes as being exerted on the children do not come from the mother herself, but rather from the archetype projected upon her, which gives her a mythological background and invests her with authority and numinosity.” (Jung, CW 9i, par. 159)
Somehow I am sure that any biological mother who has engaged in raising a child is well aware of the power she has over her child(ren). Sometimes that power is a burden as she is supposed to know everything, to heal everything, to hold everything for the child(ren). It seems that children tap into bigger picture of mother rather easily, unconsciously. But since it is mostly unconscious, all of the archetypal energy is projected onto the personal mother. Having her child(ren) grow up to be conscious and independent adults is a good thing but also a process that leaves her in a depression (empty-nest syndrome) as there is a loss, not just of the presence of the child, but also a loss of her “power,” her “authority” as the projections of her child are withdrawn leaving her stripped bare, exposing her as a vulnerable, fallible, and weak as any other person.
“Our task is not, therefore, to deny the archetype, but to dissolve the projections, in order to restore their contents to the individual who has involuntarily lost them by projecting them outside himself.” (Jung, CW 9i, par. 160)
It sounds simple, but it isn’t simple at all. Few ever completely withdraw their projections. As an adult, we are left with mother-complexes which are a melange of the archetypal and personal mother. Our journey is to rediscover the mother within regardless of our gender. We need to learn how to answer ourselves, how to heal ourselves, how to nourish ourselves – to mother ourselves in our adulthood.