Archive for the ‘good and evil’ tag
This is another scene taken during a week-end trip to WuZhen, ZheJiang, PRC. At a number of locations in the ancient village, narrow bridges arch over the series of canals that serve as streets. With the improved economy in China, the number of visitors to sites such as this one have become tourism hot spots. Modern China is wrestling with its identity in the modern world and finds that it needs to reconnect with its past, in a mythological way, as it embraces the heady pace of economic expansion, stock markets, real estate and private enterprise. Places like WuZhen serve this purpose admirably.
This photo of people going “over” the water has a certain “feel” of modern man mindlessly following a path, not daring to think deeply about what and where they are going, not questioning. The leaders of modern man promise wealth, happiness, freedom from evil. Listening to the noise that comes out from the different corners, I hear leaders exhorting their communities to overcome evil, the evil of others that gets defined in religious terms, racial terms, political terms, economic terms, or even in class terms. Enemies are evil made manifest. Goodness is always the collective to which one belongs. Bob Dylan’s song, “With God On Our Side” is a good example of this kind of belief.
But, how can one understand this “overcoming evil” represented by our enemies be they Republicans or Democrats, Communists or Capitalists, Christians or Muslims, the corporate elite or the shiftless and lazy welfare bums? The problem shows itself in deadly terms as is being witnessed in Libya today as sides are taken and bombs are flying. Caught in the middle, dying, are Libyans, ordinary people at the centre. And this is just one of what seems to be an uncountable number of “conflicts” where good is trying to overcome evil with both sides of each conflict being both the good and the evil depending on which side one stands holding a gun or power or an idea.
“People speak sometimes of “overcoming” evil. But have we the power to overcome it? It should be remembered, first, that “good” and “evil” are only our judgment in a given situation, or, to put it differently, that certain “principles” have taken possession of our judgment. Secondly, it is often impossible to speak of overcoming evil, because we are in a “closed” situation, in an aporia, where whatever we choose is not good. The important thing is to be aware that we are then in a numinous situation, surrounded on all sides by God, who can bring about either the one or the other and often does.” (Jung, CW 10, par. 883)
That is the problem in getting caught in taking sides, we end up caught in a closed situation rather than being able to “hold the tension” in order to allow another possibility to emerge, one that doesn’t take sides. Rather than following blindly down a prescribed trail, one needs to stop and step off the trail long enough to allow other voices to be heard. Listening to voices banished into the shadows of the personal and collective unconscious allows for new possibilities to emerge where before it was only a black or white possibility.
We are a strange animal, we humans. We want it all to be black or white. We want it all to be understandable, to be quantifiable and provable by reason, fact and evidence. I have been reading a historical novel set in China called Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay. Just a few moments ago, before setting down to write today’s post I read the following words: ”The World is not something to be understood. It is vanity, illusion to even try.” (p.333) And, these words feel right, that one needs to accept the unconscious faces of whatever God we choose to believe in, for the world will never make sense otherwise. All would end up becoming nothing but meaningless chaos.
In the background you can see the full extent of the prairie village in which I live when “home” in Canada. In the foreground, the solitary figure and shadow of Michael, my brother-in-law, is seen heading back to this little village. The scene looks east into the morning sun which accounts for the darker aspects. Something to think about here. I am seeing shadows while looking towards the sun, sun shadows.
Opposites – Michael has me thinking about opposites, and in particular, consciousness and the unconscious. Michael has his moments when he is lucid to a certain degree. For the most part, he appears to be relatively conscious. It is only when one tries to engage him in conversation or activity when one discovers that consciousness is fading. Seeing his struggles, I get a better appreciation of my own relative “wholeness.”
“Without the experience of the opposites there is no experience of wholeness . . .” (Jung, CW 12, par 24)
Of course, I must admit that “I” experience the opposites as well. For the most part, my experience of the unconscious is through dreams. At other times, I bump into the unconscious through play and active imagination. And of course, I become aware of the presence of the unconscious “after the fact” when there is fallout from my speech and/or my actions while “under the influence” of the unconscious via archetypal presence.
When considering the opposites of darkness and light, I am immediately inclined to see darkness as “evil” and light as “good.” I fear the unknown, especially that unknown which foments conflict within me and conflict between myself and others. Since the unknown is hidden in darkness, I project that darkness outside of myself rather than admit that it simply more of my “self” which has yet to be made aware to my “ego” self. So where does this “belief” of darkness and light representing good and evil come from for me? Jung has an answer that seems to make sense,
“Christianity has made the antinomy of good and evil into a world problem . . .” (Jung, CW 12, par 25)
The threats of hell, of punishments – these were gifts given to me while being trained as a Catholic youth in catechism classes, ideas validated by parents and grandparents and teachers in the Catholic schools I attended. The light is good, and the light is God and Jesus. The dark is bad, and the dark is Satan. A was taught to beware of Satan who would do anything, to sin, in order to turn me into a bad person. And, if I did sin it was enough to “repent” during confession and God would take me back and give me another chance to earn a place in eternal light, in heaven.
Now? Well, I have come to see that the bad and dark stuff that I fear in the outer world is also within me. I have also realised that the good and the light stuff is also within me. And in realising this, I have come to some balance, a place of less fear of the darkness, and of less fear of the light.
A recent photo taken near our town shows an American Widgeon male and female. The male is blurred however I decided to keep the photo rather than trashing is, something I typically do with blurred photos. Though blurred, the photo has meaning.
I guess the meaning for me is that life is often blurred. In almost all situations, there is little that is crystal clear – black or white. I get tired of listening to the certainty and clarity that many pronounce their “knowledge” their “truths.” I get wary when hearing simplistic black versus white statements. Yes, there is good and evil in the world. Yet, that good and evil is in all aspects of the world and in all humans. The more I try to live as a saint, the more pressure the sinner within exerts on me unconsciously. Knowing this, it stops being “us” versus “them” for me.
I get tired of hearing of someone having all the answers which are available if one studies this particular book or buys into that particular belief system. The answers aren’t out there. What is an answer for me can never be an answer for you. We each must carve our our own set of answers by “living the questions” that arise within us. I don’t trust gurus or their followers. Any real “individuated” person would be much too humble to take on a mana-personality to be a guru.
The PDF is uploaded to the SoFoBoMo site. I finished! That said, the version that I have been posting excerpts from here continues to grow. I have decided that it will be finished without being “rushed” so that I can ensure that I get harmony between text and photos, a difficult task when limited to only prairie scenes found in such a short period of time. Now, for today’s entry from the ongoing work …
Are You my Father?
Who inspires fear and wonder
Will you destroy me?
“Wait ‘till your father gets home,” is a threat that has been heard by most children, a threat that has been repeated in Christian churches century after century, and in all mythologies. Fear of the father, fear of God. God and Father – to separate the two as a child is not even thinkable. And within the inner spaces of “self,” they become one.
The father represents the world of moral commandments and prohibitions … The father is representative of the spirit whose function it is to oppose pure instinctuality. (Jung, CW vol. 5, “Symbols of Mother and Rebirth,” paragraph 396, 1956.)
The need for rules is an act of consciousness. It is through rules that consciousness separates itself from the unconscious. Another name for this idea is “logos.”
There is no consciousness without discrimination of opposites. This is the paternal principle, the Logos, which eternally struggles to extricate itself from the primal warmth and primal darkness of the maternal womb; I a word, from unconsciousness. (Jung, CW vol. 9i,” Psychological Aspects of the Mother Archetype,” paragraph 178, 19 59.)
And as one attempts to escape being swallowed by the unconscious, one senses the war that exists between the forces of darkness and light, between good and evil. Religions of the world all point to this eternal struggle. And at the head of each theology, sits the father, an image that is regarded as the light that shines into the darkness.
As one moves towards the light, one becomes more aware of the darkness and how that darkness clings. Holding to the tension of becoming more saint than sinner, one can’t but help thoughts of self-denigration, that one is unworthy and that one is destined to be cast into eternal darkness by the eternal judge, the Father.